From The Sidelines: BC Lions fall 27-16 to Redblacks in season opener

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Image: BC Lions / Facebook

Last night in front of a sold out crowd at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, the BC Lions offence was unable to match the convenient and opportune plays that came from the arm of Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris.

Even at age 40, Burris was able to complete 23 of 29 passes for 296 yds and 3 TDs, only conceding a single interception, which was bobbled and almost caught by Redblacks wide receiver Maurice Price on the very first drive of the game. Burris’ biggest target the entire night was Canadian Brad Sinopoli, who caught nine passes for 99 yards. Sinopoli, an ex-QB for the Ottawa Gee-Gees of the CIS, was awarded the Hec Crighton Trophy back in 2010, which is given annually to the most outstanding Canadian football player in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

On the B.C. side of the ball, Travis Lulay’s first throw of the game was a 50-yard completion to 2014 CFL West All-Star Emmanuel Arceneaux. Unfortunately, after missing two golden chances in the redzone, the Lions only accounted for seven points at halftime. Lulay’s overthrows throughout the whole game kept the Lions from gaining a comfortable lead for themselves, and even after newcomer Austin Collie’s first receiving TD of the season to put the Leos up 16-13 late in the 3rd quarter, the Redblacks had more than enough time to not only take the lead early in the 4th, but extend it to a two-possesion game as well.

Although you can factor in Leos Shaquille-Murray Lawrence’s punt return for a TD after a safety early in the second half was called back due to a holding penalty, Ottawa’s Chris Willaims had a 101-yard kick return that didn’t count as well. At the end of the day, B.C. simply didn’t deserve to come out of Ottawa undefeated. Both running back Andrew Harris and Lulay combined to run the ball 15 times for only 59 yards, meanwhile Redblacks Chevon Walker garnered 103 all by himself.

New Lions centre Jason Foster looked uncomfortable when faced with one-on-one situations in the trenches, as Foster simply got eaten up by the opposing defensive line when it counted most, especially on a must-convert 3rd-and-1 play late in the game. Along with Foster, two new import guards T-Dre Player and Tommie Draheim played as TSN’s Farhan Lalji tweeted out: “defined by their penalties as much as their play.”

Ultimately, the biggest loss for the Lions may not be the loss itself, but the devastating injury that occurred when defensive back Ryan Phillips sustained a reported pulled hamstring during an attempted interception by the 10-year CFL vet himself. Lions fans in B.C. can only hope that the four-time All-Star will be out for a short amount of time, but unfortunately, my personal optimism for his comeback this year is quite slim.

The Lions will host their arch-rival Saskatchewan Roughriders this coming Friday, July 10 at BC Place. Help show your support for the pride of all B.C. and roar on by purchasing your tickets today at www.bclions.com.

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Trevor Knapp Trevor Knapp covers the BC Lions of the CFL and the Class-A Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League for Vancity Buzz. He manages his own personal sports blog at www.knapptimesports.wordpress.com.
@trevorknapp16

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