VANCOUVER -- For the first time in a long time, the BC Lions’ ball hawks were out in full flight
Their pray? Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant, a versatile, speedy target who prior to Sunday night had thrown just four interceptions in six outings.
|3 games and counting|
It's been all smiles in BC throughout the last month, with the defence allowing just 22 points in their last three games.
Heading into their Week 8 matchup with the Riders, the Lions’ secondary had managed to register just one interception, with CB Dante Marsh picking off Toronto’s Ricky Ray two weeks ago for the unit’s lone tally.
However, by the time they were done with Durant and the Riders offence, that number had quadrupled.
Marsh, along with two picks by 25-year-old SFX grad Cauchy Muamba, put together a shut down performance that fans in BC have been waiting for all season long.
It didn’t go unnoticed by the Riders, either.
“They have a veteran group and as the game wore along, they got stronger and they finished stronger with us,” Roughriders Head Coach Corey Chamblin said once all was said and done. “Our guys fought, but we just couldn’t get all three phases playing at a high level.”
In the end, the Lions defence limited the Roughriders attack to a modest 278 combined yards through the air and on the ground.
Durant’s final numbers were evidence enough of just how suffocating the Lions were, as he completed just 66 per cent of his passes for a season-low 170 yards and, yes, three interceptions.
With the win, the Lions extended their win-streak to a season-high three games. And while winning three-straight outings is impressive on its own, it’s the way they have been doing that has left many rather impressed.
It has been over 180 minutes since the Lions defence has allowed a touchdown, leaving Head Coach Mike Benevides overwhelmed at their performance.
“Those guys have been fantastic, when you take a look at three CFL games without allowing a touchdown, that’s remarkable,” said Benevides shortly after the Lions’ win on Sunday night.
“They’re playing hard, they’re playing fast for each other and the encouraging thing is it’s not just 12 starters, we’re playing 13, 14, 15, even at times 16 different people rolling in and everybody is contributing,” he added.
One of the turning points of the game arrived early on in the fourth quarter, with the Roughriders facing a third-and-one situation, down by two touchdowns on the BC 45-yard line.
Saskatchewan running back Kory Sheets took a handoff from backup QB Drew Willy and attempted to leap over the rising pile, only to meet a wall of orange that would stop him well short of a first down.
“That third-and-shot stop, that’s unbelievable,” admitted Benevides.
“I’m really proud of those game-changing plays and then our offence was spectacular in the second half, they took over the game, started rolling and started getting things done,” he continued.
While the offence also did their part in securing BC’s league-best fifth win of the season – earning sole possession of first place in the West Division in the process, they were quick to recognize the superb display of their teammates on the opposite side of the field.
“Oh, you know, five points? We feel pretty good about winning football games if the opponent is only scoring five,” said Lions quarterback Travis Lulay.
“That’s just a great job by them, and these guys have shown they can put points on the board and in a hurry, so that’s just a great effort by our defence.”