Montreal –Update – BC Lions QB Travis Lulay initially diagnosed with 2nd-degree MCL sprain. Could be out at least month.
Original Story – John Beck threw two touchdowns in relief of Travis Lulay while Lavelle Hawkins scored the first of his career, leading the BC Lions to a 25-16 road win over the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday night.
Lulay exited the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return, but Beck stepped in to throw a pair of first-half touchdown passes to spark the Lions’ offence. The defence, meanwhile, forced five interceptions and a fumble on Alouettes’ starter Tanner Marsh in that unit’s most dominant performance of the season.
Beck finished with 114 passing yards on 14-of-22 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Five different players each recorded an interception for the Lions’ defence, meanwhile, as the Lions took full advantage of Montreal offensive muscues.
With both defences exchanging stops early in the game, the Lions made the game’s first statement. With the pocket collapsing, Jabar Westerman knocked the ball out of Marsh’s grasp and it was scooped up by defensive lineman Mic’hael Brooks for the game’s first turnover.
That led to a 46-yard field goal by Richie Leone to give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
With the clock running out in the first quarter, Lulay was injured after being tackled by Kyries Hebert on a second-down run. The Lions’ starter was evaluated and returned to the sideline in full equipment, but he didn’t make it back in the game.
Beck, entering the game with six touchdown passes and no interceptions in his brief two-year CFL career, made quick work of the opportunity. He found Lavelle Hawkins for a catch-and-run touchdown in the dying seconds of the first quarter, marking the first of Hawkins’ career and extending the Lions’ lead to 10-0.
The Alouettes added a pair of field goals off the leg of rookie kicker Boris Bede to cut the deficit to 10-6, but the Lions weren’t about to stagnate. After the first touchdown came off a three-play scoring drive following a Marsh interception, Beck made short work of the Als’ stingy defence yet again, taking only five plays this time.
Beck hit Harris for a 13-yard pickup on second and 10, then a facemask penalty moved the Lions on the doorstep. On the next play Beck found Austin Collie for the former NFLer’s fifth touchdown reception of the season to extend the Lions’ lead to 17-6. That score capped off a five-play, 75-yard drive in just 2:30.
The Lions’ backup pivot, meanwhile, was making the most of his opportunity, opening the game with 65 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns on 7-of-9 passing.
While Beck and the Lions’ offence struck a slight lull from then on, it was the defence stepping in with yet another game-changing play. Ahead 17-6 and well in control, linebacker Bo Lokombo deflected Marsh’s throw up in the air and into the hands of national defensive back Eric Fraser.
Fraser returned the pick to the house, extending BC’s lead to 24-6 in front of a stunned and suddenly subdued Montreal home crowd.
But like it’s done on many occasions this season, Montreal’s defence answered right back. Beck, having never thrown an interception in 69 passing attempts, was picked off by standout corner Jonathan Hefney of the Als who returned it the other way for six.
The exchange of pick-sixes made it 24-13, a score that held up right through to the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, Montreal’s strong defence kept BC from moving the ball and gave the Als a chance to inch closer. Nik Lewis moved the sticks for 18 yards on a key catch and in the process passed Arland Bruce III in career receiving yards to move into 10th all-time. Meanwhile he set up a career-long 52-yard field goal from Bede to make it an eight-point game.
Beck, long removed from his early-game two touchdown surge, needed to make something happen for the Lions with the Alouettes pressing. He couldn’t find the end zone but he did do enough to set up a Leone field goal try from 50 yards out. Leone pulled the kick wide for his second miss of the game, but the ball got through the grasp of Stefan Logan in the end zone to give BC a valuable single point and extend the lead to nine points.
The Alouettes punted on the next drive and down two scores, it seemed like the game was slipping out of their grasp. But yet again it was that Montreal defence creating a potential game-breaker. Dominique Ellis came up with the Alouettes’ second interception off Beck with just over three minutes left in the game, giving the home team new life.
But with four turnovers already next to his name, Marsh ran into more trouble. First he kept the drive alive with his legs and moved the Als into scoring range, but it was all for nothing after yet another turnover — this time on Marsh’s fourth pick of the game. T.J. Lee came up with the pick for the Lions, all but sealing the win and getting BC back in the win column.
Marsh managed only 103 passing yards in his first start of 2015 on 16-of-30 passing, throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble. Tyrell Sutton rushed for 88 yards on just seven carries as the Als had success in limited rushing opportunities, but failed to establish the kind of run game that led them over the Lions two weeks ago in BC.
Nik Lewis had a game-high five catches for Montreal but managed only 33 yards.
The Lions ended a mini two-game losing streak with the win and won their second game on the road this season, while more importantly they move into a playoff spot as the third-place team in the West. They’ll return to the west coast for a clash with the REDBLACKS on Sunday, Sept. 13.
After two hard-fought road wins for the Als, meanwhile, their momentum stalls with Thursday night’s loss. They’ll get a week off before taking on the Bombers at home on Sunday, Sept. 20.