B.C.’s Adam Bighill had the game of his life Friday as he helped force at least three turnovers on the way to a 53-17 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and lock down a playoff spot for the Lions.
“That’s probably stats-wise one of the most impressive professional games I’ve ever played,” he said.
“It’s not something you go out there and try to do. You just go out there and play every down and what happens happens.”
The first quarter was a comedy of errors for the Bombers, who opened with a turnover as Will Ford bobbled a lateral from quarterback Max Hall on his first play of the game.
Bighill, a linebacker, snatched it up in the scramble and took it 30 yards for the Lions’ first touchdown. One way or another, the Lions’ defence accounted for most of their points, with three touchdowns in the first half alone.
“The defence putting up points like that, it doesn’t come very often,” said Bighill.
That first was just one of seven turnovers for the Bombers (2-11), who had two touchdowns from Clarence Denmark and a field goal from Sandro DeAngelis.
Bighill, Nick Moore, Dante Marsh, Cord Parks, Andrew Harris and quarterback Thomas DeMarco had touchdowns for the Lions (9-4). Paul McCallum added three field goals and a couple of singles.
DeMarco said the big thing is locking up the playoff spot.
“We played a tremendous game, offence, defence and special teams,” said the backup, after just his second start and second win since replacing an injured Travis Lulay.
“We’re heading in the right direction and it’s just one more win to where we want to go.”
It was unpleasant all around for the Bombers and their fans, many of whom left early on a cool night with sporadic showers.
Buck Pierce got the biggest cheer of the night when he took over from DeMarco in the third quarter. Winnipeg traded Pierce to B.C. at mid-season.
Joey Elliott, cut by the Bombers as well before the season started, also saw a little action late in the game for the Lions.
The Bombers poor play hasn’t helped but a cool night and showers also left the stands emptier than they have been all season.
Winnipeg’s defence was far more effective than the Bombers’ offence and defensive back Brandon Stewart was clearly frustrated.
“We did everything that we could do. We gave them multiple chances on offence,” he said.
“Defensively we could do nothing but watch it. We’re on the sidelines. We can’t run off the sidelines and go out and tackle people.”
Coach Tim Burke said the defence played hard.
“They were getting banged up but they hung in there.”
But he had nothing good to say about his offence.
“It was pathetic.”
The Bombers have maintained at least a veneer of optimism in the CFL East where they have maintained a mathematical chance of making the playoffs.
But that too slipped Friday night.
“You keep playing for something,” said veteran offensive lineman Glenn January.
“If the playoff picture is out of the question now you’ve got to play for your jobs, you’ve got to play for your paycheque, you’ve got to play for your family back home watching you, you’ve got to play for the name on the back of your jersey.”
Things looked up briefly in the first quarter for the Bombers after Hall executed a four-play 54-yard drive and connected with Denmark to tie it less than three minutes later.
But a coverage gap let DeMarco cap his own short drive with a throw to a wide-open Moore, who strolled into the end zone.
The Bombers weren’t done with first-quarter gaffes. Ford and Denmark were back to take the kick and basically just watched McCallum’s 80-yarder bounce between them for a single.
Hall was intercepted in the second quarter on his own 28-yard line, which set up McCallum’s 34-yard field goal at 9:24 to make it 18-7.
A little over five minutes later Hall was closing in on the B.C. goal line when he was intercepted again and Dante Marsh returned it 79 yards for another touchdown.
Another single on a 50-yard punt from McCallum made it 26-7 and then Akeem Foster fumbled a pass from Hall and set up Parks 45-yard touchdown return.
With about a minute left in the first half, though, Hall connected with Denmark again with a 35-yarder to make it 33-14.
Jason Boltus came in for Hall in the second half and on his first play threw an interception that led to DeMarco’s one-yard run for B.C.’s second offensive touchdown.
Harris made it 47-14 with a 16-yard run just before the third quarter ended.
Boltus fumbled on a throw on his own 11-yard line to set up McCallum’s 12-yard field goal.
DeAngelis kicked a 30-yard field goal with 5:49 left to make it 50-17 but McCallum added another three points for the Lions as well with about a minute and a half left.