Oct 7, 2012 / 7:47 am
Andrew Harris made sure the BC Lions didn't miss Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce III.
Harris ran for the winning touchdown Saturday as the Lions beat the Calgary Stampeders 27-22 in a showdown for first place in the CFL's West Division. With the win, BC clinched a playoff berth.
"It was a fast start, that's what we've been preaching all week and we got it done," said Harris.
The Lions have struggled to score in the first quarter this season, and still only managed seven in the first quarter Saturday, but controlled the first half.
The Stampeders scored the game's final nine points, but the BC defence held them in check on their final two possessions.
"We distributed the ball well, the (offensive) line played great and our defence came up big in those last couple of drives, so it was a great team win," said Harris.
Simon (hamstring) and Bruce (concussion-like symptoms), the club's top receivers, missed the game due to injuries suffered in a loss to Saskatchewan a week earlier. Harris, a Winnipeg native who produced 125 all-purpose yards on the night, ran in from three yards out 1:23 into the fourth quarter to stake the Lions to a 27-13 advantage.
BC improved its West Division-leading record to 10-4 and moved four points up on the second-place Stamps (8-6). The Lions have won seven of the last eight meetings between the teams.
"We just started out too slow," said Stampeders linebacker Juwan Simpson. "When you're playing a team like BC, a veteran team, you can't give them any leads or anything. We had a good second half, we played good, but with a team like that, you just can't give them any time to think whatsoever. We've just gotta bounce back."
Shawn Gore and Nick Moore caught touchdown passes for the Lions, while Paul McCallum provided their remaining points on two field goals and three converts. Moore's touchdown was one of a game-high five receptions on the night.
Defensive back Brandon Smith, on a fumble return, and receiver Romby Bryant scored touchdowns for Calgary, while Rene Paredes added three field goals and a couple of converts.
Harris now has 915 rushing yards on the season. He and Calgary counterpart Jon Cornish are attempting to become on the third pair of Canadian running backs to produce 1,000 yards in the same season.
BC quarterback Travis Lulay completed 23-of-33 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Lulay is now nine games shy of Montreal legend Sam Etcheverry's record streak of 34 games with a TD pass, set between the 1954 and 1956 seasons.
"We weren't as clean as we needed to be in the second half," said Lulay. "The defence held on, did a great job and this was a great character win for us."
Lulay's run began in August 2011 as the Lions began an improbable comeback from a 1-6 start to win the Grey Cup. The touchdown passes were the 49th and 50th he has thrown during the streak.
Notes: The Lions allowed their first sack in four games as Juwan Simpson down late in the fourth quarter. ... Cornish is attempting to become the first Canadian since Winnipeg's Gerry James in 1957 to lead the CFL in rushing. James ran for 1,192 yards in 18 games. ... BC defensive lineman Eric Taylor suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. Taylor was twisted down by Obby Khan away from the play. ... Lions defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
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