Travis Lulay called it the toughest win the CFL-leading B.C. Lions have earned this season.
Kicker Paul McCallum hit a 41-yard field goal on the last play of the game as the B.C. Lions fended off a late Winnipeg rally on Friday for a 20-17 win over the Blue Bombers.
The victory stretches B.C.’s winning streak to four games and the Lions improved their record to 6-2, while the Bombers drop to 2-6.
“This was probably the hardest-fought win we’ve had — a huge character win for us,” said Lulay. “Obviously, that fourth quarter, especially the second half of that fourth quarter, was looking pretty ugly for a while, but we stuck to it and made the plays down the stretch that we needed to.”
Lulay completed 16 of 26 pass attempts for 220 yards with two interceptions and one five-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Harris in the second quarter. All of Lulay’s 50 yards rushing came in the first half.
B.C.’s streak of not allowing an opponent to score a touchdown ended at 15 quarters when Winnipeg backup quarterback Alex Brink plunged in for a one-yard TD at 10:45 of the third quarter.
Winnipeg put up a fight and actually grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter when Justin Palardy booted a pair of field goals after Lulay was twice intercepted.
Harris scored his second TD of the game on a two-yard run with less than two minutes left in the game to grab the 17-14 edge.
After a 29-yard pass from Bombers QB Joey Elliott to veteran receiver Terrence Edwards, Palardy hit another field goal from 31 yards out to make it 17-17 with 27 seconds left.
Lulay got McCallum into scoring range with a 16-yard pass to Ernest Jackson and a 24-yard completion to veteran Geroy Simon.
The quarterback didn’t doubt the 20-year veteran would make the kick.
“Paul, more than anything what he’s really good at, is he is cool as a cucumber,” said Lulay. “It looked like a kick at the end of practice. No big deal. He walked out there, buttoned up his chin strap real slow and put it through the uprights.”
McCallum was also good on a 23-yard field goal that opened the game’s scoring at 12:45 of the second quarter.
The 42-year-old took his winning boot in stride.
“This is a team effort,” McCallum said. “They moved the ball when they had to move the ball and got me in field-goal range.
“I just enjoy the win and enjoy those opportunities. I have a lot of fun out there.”
Palardy had three field goals and added a single off a missed 38-yard field-goal attempt.
Elliott was 20-of-42 for 256 yards and one interception. Bomber Chris Matthews led all receivers with six catches for 101 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, B.C. led 10-0 at halftime and 10-8 after three quarters.
The tide then started turning Winnipeg’s way.
Lulay was intercepted by defensive back Demond Washington just under five minutes into the fourth quarter. The turnover led to a 17-yard Palardy field goal to go ahead 11-10 at 7:30.
Lulay was intercepted for a second time on the next series when linebacker Marcellus Bowman stepped in front of a pass intended for Simon.
Winnipeg then got Palardy’s 31-yarder with 4:21 left in the game.
The Lions clawed back and Lulay connected with Shawn Gore for a 43-yard reception that helped set up Harris’s TD with 1:52 left.
Winnipeg had two early interceptions wiped out because of penalties.
One interception did stand when Lions backup QB Mike Reilly was in a short-yardage situation, but threw up a long ball that was picked off in the end zone by Johnny Sears.
“I think defensively we played tremendous,” said Bomber defensive back Jovon Johnson, who had an interception nixed by a pass interference call on teammate Jonathan Hefney. “At the end of the day, they made plays down the stretch. Lulay is a great quarterback and everybody knows that and he made plays and he kept drives alive with his feet and that ultimately hurt us.”
Elliott called the game a “dog fight.”
“We were scrapping and clawing for every yard we could gain. I feel like they were doing the same,” Elliott said.
“Lulay was running around, making plays with his feet, and they made me do that, too. Defensively, hats off to both defences.”
Notes: Winnipeg was dinged for 13 penalties for 95 yards, while the Lions were flagged 11 times for 105 yards . . . The teams’ total net offence was almost identical. Winnipeg had 327 yards to B.C.’s 331.