B.C. 27 Winnipeg 20
VANCOUVER — Travis Lulay’s touchdown-passing drought did not last long.
One game, to be exact.
Lulay passed for three touchdowns as the B.C. Lions beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27-20 in CFL action Monday.
The Lions improved to 4-2 while the Bombers (1-5) suffered their fourth consecutive loss.
The Lions quarterback got his team back in the end zone after it was held without a TD for the time since 2005 — a span of 131 games — in a loss to Toronto last week. He rebounded strongly six days after seeing a 36-game touchdown-passing streak come to an end.
“It feels great to get a win,” said Lulay. “To come home and bounce back was important for us. As a group, any time you’re coming off a tough loss, (and) you’re coming home, you need to find a way to win those games, because it’s a long season.
“Mentally, there are some ebbs and flows. To go into the bye week with a win, to overcome the red-zone demons that we’ve been talking about all week, and find a way to put some sevens on the board this week, those are important things for us.”
The Lions extended their red-zone woes early as they failed to score for the fifth straight time after advancing within their opponent’s 10-yard line, dating back to last week. But the Lions quarterback, who was hurried much of the game, still managed to hit paydirt.
“I don’t care how we score the touchdowns as long as we score the touchdowns,” said Lulay. “Last week was the first time in a long time that this offence hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown. It’s important to us. We take pride in being better than we were a week ago.”
Lulay’s third touchdown pass of the game, to Courtney Taylor with just over six minutes left in the game, clinched the win for B.C. as it staked the Lions to an insurmountable 26-17 lead.
The scoring drive was aided by Winnipeg coach Tim Burke’s decision to have punter Mike Renaud concede a safety with 10:36 left in the game, giving the Lions a 19-17 lead and putting B.C. in good field position after an ensuing kick-off.
Shawn Gore and Korey Taylor also scored touchdowns for the Lions. Paul McCallum produced B.C.’s other points on a field goal and single off a miss. Lulay completed 28 of 39 passes for 268 yards.
Chad Simpson and quarterback Justin Goltz ran for Winnipeg touchdowns. Justin Palardy provided a field goal and a single off a missed field goal, while Renaud’s two singles accounted for the Bombers’ other points.
While Lulay was excelling on offence, Lions middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian stood out on defence. Elimimian forced a fumble on the opening kick-off that led to an early field goal. His second-quarter interception set up Williams’ touchdown, which was the first of the rookie’s CFL career, staking the Lions to a 17-9 advantage and enabling them to lead 17-16 at half-time.
“We have to understand that people really get themselves up to play us,” said Elimimian, referring to Winnipeg’s struggles. “It was a good overall win. Sometimes, wins like this are better than blowouts.”
Elimimian, selected by his team as its best special teams and defensive player, said he felt good about the fumble and interception, because he wanted to make a statement for himself and show that the Lions have the best linebacking corps in the league.
He and his defensive mates limited the Bombers to just 207 yards in net offence.
“I thought we came out and were on the cusp of really breaking through this game,” said Goltz, completed a modest 13 of 27 passes for just 112 yards and the interception. “We can’t make as many mistakes as we did.
“Obviously, we felt good about the way we played in the first half despite some turnovers. In the second half, you have to credit a veteran secondary for B.C. They really stepped up their game, and we weren’t able to make enough plays against them.”
After a rare fumble from usually sure-handed B.C. returner Tim Brown — which was recovered at the Lions 21-yard line — Goltz ran five yards for a touchdown off a play-action fake, enabling the Bombers to reduce their deficit to 17-16 before half-time.
Winnipeg drew even at 17-17 on a 59-yard punt single in the third quarter. But the Bombers could not generate any significant momentum, even after a McCallum missed field goal goal — his first unsuccessful attempt in 24 games dating to last season — was run out of the end zone.
After McCallum pinned Winnipeg to its one-yard line, Bombers coach Burke instructed punter Renaud to concede a safety, giving the Lions a 19-17 lead with 10:36 left in the game. Burke wanted to help the Lions get better field position after stopping the Lions, but Lulay did not co-operate.
He led the Lions on an eight-play, 63-yard scoring drive which culminated in his decisive 11-yard touchdown pass to Taylor.
“To me, as an offensive group, if they’re willing to put some (opponent) points on the board because they feel like they can stop you, that’s a challenge to your offence,” said Lulay. “And, it’s their coaching showing some confidence in their defence to swing the field, but (Brown) gave us a nice return, gave us some nice field position on top of the field, and we were able to march it down and score a touchdown on the next drive.”
The Bombers managed to get closer on a Palardy 39-yard field goal, but conceded one more point off another missed McCallum field-goal attempt. Winnipeg could not advance beyond midfield after the B.C. kicker shanked a punt with 59 seconds left.
“From a wide receiver and quarterback standpoint, I feel like we had to be perfect — and we weren’t,” said Goltz.
Notes: Lions defensive lineman Eric Taylor sacked Goltz on the final play of the game. … B.C. acquired non-import offensive lineman Steve Myddelton from the Calgary Stampeders on Monday in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2014 CFL draft. Myddelton was Calgary’s fourth-round selection (30th overall) in 2009. The 27-year-old Barrie, Ont., native has appeared in 36 games for the Stamps over four seasons, including one game this year. The St. Francis Xavier University product was acquired as depth after Lions rookie guard Kirby Fabien suffered a season-ending knee injury in Toronto last week.