Lions 38 Alouettes 17
MONTREAL — The two-month losing streak is finally over for the B.C. Lions.
Casey Printers threw a pair of touchdown passes before leaving the game with leg cramps in the third quarter as the Lions (2-7) ended a seven-game losing run with a 38-17 victory Friday over the Alouettes and a rare win by a visitor to Montreal (6-3).
“It’s a long time coming,” said defensive end Keron Williams. “Week One was the last time we felt like this as a team.
“We rallied, we stayed with each other and we showed what kind of team we are.”
The victory ended Montreal’s 13-game home winning streak dating from their last loss at Percival Molson Stadium on Oct. 26, 2008.
The Lions jumped on a Montreal team that was missing starting quarterback Anthony Calvillo to a bruised sternum and had third-stringer Chris Leak making his first CFL start.
Leak was held to 135 yards on 15 completions and threw two interceptions before he suffered a hip injury early in the fourth and was replaced by Ricky Santos, who led two late touchdown drives.
“Winning is always a relief, especially after two months of losing,” said Lions coach Wally Buono.
“The guys for some reason had a change of spirit.
“On Tuesday when we practised in a downpour you could see the guys focused on the game and not the wind and cold. And Montreal was different without AC (Calvillo). The turnovers helped our football club, but a win’s a win.”
Calvillo is expected back when the Alouettes play at Hamilton on Sept. 11. Second-string pivot Adrian McPherson is also due to return from a knee injured suffered in the pre-season.
There was much anticipation about Leak, the star of the University of Florida’s NCAA championship win over Ohio in 2006. But Montreal did not start moving the ball with regularity until veteran back-up Santos came into the game with B.C. leading 35-3.
“I felt great going into the game,” said Leak. “It’s just football. Sometimes things don’t happen the way you want them to. This is just an adverse time. You have to fight through it.”
Coach Marc Trestman laid no blame on 25-year-old Leak.
“We lost as a team and it starts with me,” said Trestman. “Anyone who thinks we didn’t have the right quarterback — that’s ridiculous.”
While Printers should be fine when the Lions play host to Toronto on Sept. 11, they lost centre Dean Valli to a suspected fractured leg.
“The story of our year — that’s the fourth Canadian hurt,” said Buono. “But we have (back-up) Angus Reid. He’s a pro and he’ll do a good job for us.”
The Lions also got a rushing TD from Yonus Davis, while Korey Banks took a Leak fumble into the end zone. Paul McCallum had three field goals.
Santos threw two TD passes to S.J. Green, while Damon Duval had a field goal for Montreal.
The statistics were surprisingly close for a one-sided game. B.C. had only a 393-304 edge in net offence. Printers was 14-for-28 for 235 yards before he left, while Lulay completed two of six for 54 yards and was picked off twice.
The Lions defence held tailback Avon Cobourne to 57 yards on 13 carries.
The crowd of 25,012, the 100th straight sellout at Percival Molson Stadium, either left early or booed through much of the second half, but Santos gave the diehards some late consolation.
Mark Estelle picked off a pass from Lulay early in the fourth quarter. Santos then carried the ball 40 yards on a run and hit Green with a seven-yard TD toss.
Then Etienne Boulay intercepted another Lulay pass, setting up a five-yard TD pass to Green.
McCallum was good on a 30-yard attempt early and Duval matched it with a 31-yard boot before a McCallum punt went for the single.
Another McCallum kick in the second quarter made it 7-3 before Printers’ finally led a 75-yard scoring drive late in the half. He hit Paris Jackson twice with long passes, then found Simon alone in the end zone from 21 yards 30 seconds before half time.
Tad Crawford picked off a Leak pass early in the third and, helped by a first down on a fake punt by McCallum, got into position for Printers’ five-yard TD pass to Black.
A Banks interception set up a 10-yard TD run by Davis, and Banks was on the spot again as Leak tripped while carrying the ball and saw it pop out right to the B.C. linebacker for a 48-yard TD. Leak was hurt on the play and did not return.
McCallum’s 10 points moved him past Dave Cutler’s 2,237 career points and into seventh place all-time.
And Jackson got the 53 yards he needed to pass Ryan Thelwell (4,991) for ninth place all-time and pass the 5,000-yard mark for his career.