Blue Bombers 47 Lions 35
WINNIPEG — Deon Beasley wasn’t happy with the way he was playing and vowed to make a difference.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back did just that when he returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown in overtime Monday to seal the Bombers’ stunning 47-35 win over the B.C. Lions.
“I wasn’t making the plays I was supposed to make, but I told myself and I told my coach, ‘Keep trying me and before this game is over with I’m going to make a play,”’ Beasley said.
Beasley intercepted Casey Printers after Winnipeg running back Yvenson Bernard had already scored a touchdown on a two-yard run to give the Blue Bombers a 41-35 lead. It was the second pick of the season for the rookie out of Texas.
In the first overtime possession, Lions kicker Sean Whyte booted a 30-yard field goal. Justin Palardy replied with a 32-yarder for Winnipeg.
The victory before a season-low 25,016 fans at Canad Inns Stadium kept Winnipeg’s slim playoff hopes alive by bumping the Bombers’ record to 4-10.
B.C. dropped to 5-9 and sits in third place in the West Division ahead of Edmonton (4-10). With the Lions’ loss, both Calgary and Saskatchewan clinched home playoff games.
“The positive thing is that we’re still a game ahead of Edmonton and a game ahead of Winnipeg,” B.C. head coach Wally Buono said. “Other than that, I don’t know what positive you can get out of this.”
Palardy sent the game into overtime with a 42-yard field goal as time expired after a wild second half.
The Lions scored 24 unanswered points in the third quarter to go ahead 32-11, but Winnipeg responded with 21 straight points in the fourth to make it 32-32.
“They played their hearts out for the whole game and did a tremendous job,” Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice said. “When you go through a lot of losses, it’s great for the players to have success.”
League-leading rusher Fred Reid scored on a 44-yard darting run for Winnipeg, which also got touchdown catches from Terrence Edwards and Greg Carr.
Palardy also booted field goals from 41 and 45 yards and added two singles, one off a missed 31-yard field-goal attempt.
B.C. got touchdowns from Geroy Simon, Emmanuel Arceneaux and running back Yonus Davis, who returned a punt 73 yards into the end zone.
Whyte, who replaced Paul McCallum (hamstring), was also good on field goals from 49, 50 and 19 yards and added two punt singles.
Both teams ended up having to switch quarterbacks during the game.
Bomber rookie Alex Brink got his first start, but he struggled connecting with his receivers and was even booed by the crowd.
He was replaced by Steven Jyles with five minutes left in the third quarter after only completing 4-of-18 passes for 61 yards.
Jyles was 11-of-19 for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
After seeing his team lose seven games this season by seven or fewer points — including six by four points or less — Jyles was thrilled with the outcome.
“It feels great to get a win like that,” Jyles said.
“I think this win right here means more to us than the other wins because we found a way to win when we were down.
That’s one thing we have to learn as an offence and as a team — is to finish a ball game. That’s what we did.“
Jyles, 27, said he wasn’t expecting to get into the game.
“Brink is a good quarterback, he’s just young,” Jyles said of the 25-year-old.
“I was pretty confident he would go out and get the win for us. It’s just things don’t go your way sometimes and I’ve been in that situation before myself.”
The Lions started Travis Lulay, but he had to leave the game early in the fourth quarter because the finger next to his thumb on his throwing hand was hit and started to swell.
Lulay said it doesn’t appear to be a serious injury and he could have still played, but his team was ahead 32-14.
“It was a combination of (the injury) and where we were in the game and the fact we have a veteran backup,” said Lulay, who was starting his fifth game of the season.
“They were comfortable (making the change).”
Lulay was 15-of-24 for 181 yards, two TDs and one interception.
“It was hard to see,” he said of the fourth-quarter collapse. “It’s disappointing, but it’s football, it happens.
“(Winnipeg) is playing for 60 minutes, too, and overtime. In the end, they just made more plays than we did late. We had chances to put them away and we just didn’t do it.”
Printers finished 4-of-7 for 37 yards and one interception.
“It was just tough, what else can you say,” Printers said.
Winnipeg led 4-0 after the first quarter and 11-8 at halftime.
B.C. committed a pair of turnovers in the second quarter.
Lulay was intercepted by linebacker Marcellus Bowman after the ball was tipped into the air by Winnipeg’s Joe Lobendahn, but the Blue Bombers’ offence came away with nothing.
Davis then fumbled a Winnipeg punt and the ball was recovered by Merrill Johnson. The turnover led to Reid’s sixth touchdown of the season.
Winnipeg had forced another B.C. turnover early in the third quarter when defensive end Doug Brown tackled Lulay and Bowman recovered the ball, but again the Bombers offence sputtered.
B.C. regrouped with Davis’ punt return TD that gave them a 15-11 lead at 4:15 and the beginning of a 24-point run.
Winnipeg turned the ball over on a punt attempt after Davis’s TD, which led to Simon’s touchdown and the crowd started chanting, “We want Jyles.”
Brink went in for another series and was then replaced by Jyles, who threw TDs to Edwards and then Carr with 57 seconds left in the game.