Lions Game Day: Big Leos Seek to Find Small Ball Rhythm Against Roughriders

It’s a two-team battle in second place with identical records, as the Green Riders arrive at BC Place on Friday to face the Leos for the second time this season.

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Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-2) at BC Lions (4-2)

7:30 pm Pacific Time. BC Place Stadium. TV: TSN. Radio: AM 730.

Line: Roughriders -1.0. Weather: 17 ° C, partly cloudy, open roof.


Who will win the battle of looting?

Both teams have allowed 13 on the season, but Saskatchewan leads the table with 20 sacks. The Riders don’t have AC Leonard, who has three sacks on the year, but they still have Jonathan Woodard, who is tied for the league lead with six sacks, and Garrett Marino, who has three. But the Lions will lose veteran JR Tavai through injury; He has two sacks and 16 tackles overall, and will be replaced by Dana Levine Jr., who will make his first CFL start.

The Lions' Lucky Whitehead runs for a touchdown against the Alouettes in Montreal last Saturday.  BC has been a great-playing team when it comes to scoring touchdowns for the most part this season.
The Lions’ Lucky Whitehead runs for a touchdown against the Alouettes in Montreal last Saturday. BC has been a great-playing team when it comes to scoring touchdowns for the most part this season. Photo by Graham Hughes /THE CANADIAN PRESS


1. IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS: BC has been hitting on the big plays, on offense and defense, but has struggled with consistency on both sides of the ball. The Lions are the last (41.6 percent) in second-down conversions and seventh in possession, while forcing the second-fewest two-and-outs on defense behind Montreal. But the big plays: 100-yard range returns, deep touchdowns or late-game turnovers have covered the misses. For example, when Michael Reilly threw his only interception of the season against Ottawa, Bo Lokombo I got a pick-six on the next play.


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“I like that we’re making plays when we need to make them … That’s the most important thing we’re doing,” head coach Rick Campbell said. “Many times the games are close, especially in the last quarter, and you have to come up with the necessary plays to win. When you need to compete and make plays in those moments, we’ve been doing it.

“But I think consistency on offense – staying on the field and holding units longer – and on defense – getting off the field, forcing some two and more outs – I think that would be our two big things (I’d like to improve). . “

2. WHAT DOPE: The Riders will not have defensive lineman Leonard for this game, as serving the final of a three-game suspension for refusing to provide a urine sample and verbal abuse from a doping officer on September 5. On Wednesday, it emerged that BC Lions cornerback Garry Peters had also been suspended after he verbally abused a doping officer after the Montreal game.

He has reportedly appealed his suspension and has been included in the team’s depth chart for Friday.

3. OLD SCHOOL, NEW SCHOOL: Michael Reilly is the oldest starting quarterback in the CFL. When he was winning a Gray Cup and MVP honors in Edmonton in 2015, Cody Fajardo had just started his CFL career on the Toronto Argos practice roster.

“I’ve seen Cody play some decent soccer. At this point, he’s no longer the new rookie starting quarterback. Now he’s the guy in charge of his franchise. That’s another level of being a franchise player… but it’s definitely heading in the right direction, ”Reilly said.


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4. SHORT HOURS, HIGH PRESSURE: Both teams are 4-2 when they enter the battle for second place in the West. Only eight games remain in this pandemic-shortened season, raising the stakes at BC Place on Friday night. “I never felt like you really knew a free week on the calendar. It’s been like this every week, that post-Labor Day mentality, ”Reilly said.

5. FLYERS AND NOT APPLES: The Lions have been exceptionally safe on the ball this season, with the fewest total turnovers (6). Rookie Nathan Rourke had two picks in the season opener against the Riders, and Reilly’s pick against Ottawa was his first in 129 pass attempts in 2021, and 191 overall. Fajardo’s six picks are the most of any CFL starter behind Calgary’s Bo-Levi Mitchell (7), though four of them were against BC.


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Overall, Gang Green has 10 turnovers, the fourth-fewest in the league.

Chris Rainey, after receiving a pass from quarterback Michael Reilly during last Saturday's win in Montreal, will miss Friday's game with an ankle injury.
Chris Rainey, after receiving a pass from quarterback Michael Reilly during last Saturday’s win in Montreal, will miss Friday’s game with an ankle injury. Photo by Graham Hughes /THE CANADIAN PRESS


Chris Rainey’s quest for No. 5 on the all-time kick return list will have to wait, as he was placed on the one-game disabled list after sustaining an ankle injury against Montreal. … The Riders have won seven straight games against BC, a streak that began after they snapped a seven-game streak against the Lions. His current streak is the longest against BC since 1972.… Cody Fajardo has never lost to his former team, going 4-0 since the Riders signed him in free agency. … BC’s defense has been improving since allowing three consecutive TD series in the first half of the season opener with the Riders. Since then, they have given up just two TDs on 79 opponent’s possessions. They tied the CFL record with 13 falls against Montreal, with Garry Peters, the league leader in the category, with four.


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Riders are great at stopping the race. The best in the league right now, in fact. The problem is, the Lions don’t run, pitch, and pitch deep. Lucky Whitehead has two 75-yard touchdowns this season (the first Lion to do so since Manny Arceneaux in 2013), including one against the Riders in Week 1. He’s also the league leader in catching yards. If Gang Green can hold BC against them, they win.

But they won’t … so Lions 31, Horsemen 23.



26.0 (2nd) Points to 22.2 (4th)

17.7 (2nd) Points Allowed 19.8 (4th)

299.2 (1st) Yards passing 242.3 (7th)

74.0 (7th) Running yards 117.8 (2nd)

355.3 (3rd) Net Yard Attack 344.5 (6th)

364.7 (8th) Net yards allowed 322.2 (4th)

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