Travis 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.
Lulay 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 had subsequently seen the end of a 36-game touchdown-passing streak come to an end.
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 a 26-17 lead.
The scoring drive was aided by Winnipeg coach Tim Burke’s questionable 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.
Goltz completed a modest 13 of 27 passes for just 112 yards and an interception.
The Bombers gave B.C. an early scoring opportunity as Aaron Woods fumbled on the opening kick-off after being hit hard by Solomon Elimimian.
Stu Foord recovered for B.C., and the Lions advanced to the Bombers’ nine-yard line. But the Lions were forced to settle for a McCallum 27-yard field goal after Lulay was sacked for a 10-yard loss.
It marked the fifth consecutive time in the past two games that the Lions advanced within 10 yards of the opponent’s end zone but had to settle for three points.
Winnipeg got on the scoreboard with about 11 1/2 minutes gone in the game as Palardy booted a 54-yard single off a missed field goal.
The Bombers got another scoring opportunity a short time later as defensive end Alex Hall knocked the ball out of Lulay’s hand, while chasing him from behind, and J.T. Gilmore recovered.
On the ensuing drive, Chad Simpson ran for a five-yard touchdown, staking the Bombers to an 8-3 lead that stood up at the end of the first quarter.
The Bombers increased their lead by a point with 4 1/2 minutes gone in the second quarter as Mike Renaud recorded a 68-yard punt single.
The Lions finally started to gain some offensive traction midway through the second quarter, and Lulay threw a 20-yard touchdown strike to Shawn Gore, who was wide open in the end zone. McCallum’s convert put the Lions ahead 10-9.
B.C.’s momentum continued on the next sequence thanks to an offside call on the Bombers and an Elimimian interception that he returned to the Bombers’ 25-yard line.
The pick set the stage for Lulay’s 20-yard touchdown strike to Korey Williams. It was the first CFL touchdown for Williams, a rookie who started in place of injured slotback Nick Moore.
After a rare fumble from usually sure-handed B.C. returner Tim Brown, which was recovered at Lions 21-yard line, Goltz ran five yards for a touchdown off a perfect play-action fake, enabling the Bombers to reduce their deficit to 17-16. The touchdown came after Goltz had a touchdown pass to Chris Matthews nullified because officials ruled the quarterback was over the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball.
Lions defensive back Dante Marsh was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, allowing the Bombers to advance to the B.C. five-yard line in advance of Goltz’s perfectly executed fake hand-off.
The Lions took their slim lead into the dressing room at half-time after an off-side call on guard Dean Valli stalled their final offensive sequence and time ran out before they could get in scoring range.
Lulay had a strong first half, completing 15 of 17 passes for 147 yards and the two touchdowns. Goltz was good on nine of 15 passes for just 78 yards, but his rushing TD made up for his lack of passing gains.
Winnipeg drew even on a 59-yard punt single in the third quarter. McCallum tried put the Lions ahead as he attempted a field goal in the final two minutes of the third quarter, but his 47-yard try was wide, and the Bombers ran the ball out of the end zone.
It was McCallum’s first miss in 24 attempts dating to last season.
With the score still deadlocked, the teams spent the rest of the third quarter and early portion of the fourth quarter exchanging punts. After McCallum pinned Winnipeg to its one-yard line and the Lions could not gain any ground, Bombers coach Tim Burke made the risky decision of having punter Renaud concede a safety, giving the Lions a 19-17 lead with 10:36 left in the game.
Winnipeg was then forced to kick off and B.C. returner Brown was able to advance the ball to the Lions 47-yard line. Lulay then led the Lions on a 10-play, 52-yard scoring drive which culminated in his 11-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Taylor.
McCallum’s convert put the Lions up 26-17 with about six minutes left.
The Bombers were able to get the ball to the B.C. 32-yard line thanks to a pass interference call on Marsh on Matthews. But Winnipeg had to settle for a Palardy 39-yard field goal.
The Bombers conceded another point on another missed McCallum field-goal attempt. But Winnipeg got one last try to equalize.
With 59 seconds left, the B.C. kicker inexplicably shanked a punt. The Lions were also penalized 10 yards for an illegal punt, and the Bombers took possession on their 46-yard line.
But Winnipeg could only get to the midfield mark, and the Lions’ Eric Taylor sacked Goltz on his club’s final play, leaving many to wonder about coach Burke’s decision to give up the untimely safety.
Notes—The Lions 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.