VANCOUVER, B.C. — Quinton Porter is showing his progress and growing maturity at quarterback for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
And he got some crucial help from his defence Friday night.
Porter, sacked 10 times in a 30-point loss here last year, threw for 222 yards and what proved to be the winning touchdown without an interception.
He also ran for 55 more and a second major in a 31-28 CFL victory over the stumbling B.C. Lions.
“You’re starting to see him mature and progress and he’ll be the first to tell you he probably left a few more plays on the field,” said coach Marcel Bellefeuille.
“You can see his confidence starting to grow.” The win ended a nine-game Hamilton losing streak against the Lions, who were defeated here by a club from the eastern time zone for the first time in five years.
Hamilton improved to 1-1 but the Lions, who had a sloppy 28-24 season-opening loss last week to Saskatchewan are 0-2, the same as Grey Cup champion Calgary who beat the Lions in the 2008 West Final.
Porter said Friday’s win was a big turnaround from the 40-10 loss here last season but there’s more work to be done by his club that finished 3-15 last season.
“This is night and day from last year,” he said. “We really came out to play today”.
“There’s things to clean up, it’s the second game of the season and it’s not going to be perfect. But we made plays when we had to and there were a couple of times later in the game when I could have made plays that I didn’t.”
The win was keyed by 43-yard interception return for another major by defensive back Geoff Tisdale.
“That’s what happens when you play it right,” said Tisdale who stepped in front of slotback Geroy Simon while Pierce was pressured by former Lion linebacker Otis Floyd.
“It was real big but to be honest with you I kind of felt we were going to come in here and win this game. “Nobody in Canada believed we were going to win tonight but we stuck with each other, we believed in each other and made it happen.”
Rookie running back DeAndra Cobb, discovered in a free-agent camp in Los Angeles, had a big impact in his CFL debut by gathering in the winning points from Porter on a 48-yard pass play that gave Hamilton a 31-21 advantage.
Cobb also had 14 carries for a game-high 100 yards and 75 from five receptions.
Kicker Nick Setta had three field goals for Hamilton, including one from 51 yards to open the scoring.
B.C. kicker Paul McCallum didn’t fare as well. He failed on a pass for a two-point conversion and injured his wrist and knee tackling Marquay McDaniel on a 59-yard punt return.
Tad Crawford, who hadn’t kicked in a game since high school, took over place-kicking duties while Paris Jackson and Travis Lulay punted.
Coach Wally Buono said he might have to activate backup kicker Sean Whyte to replace the 39-year-old McCallum.
Pierce gave the Lions early leads of 6-3 and 13-4 with touchdown passes to Paris Jackson and Simon who led all receivers with 86 yards on seven catches.
Emmanuel Arceneaux made it close for the Lions when he combined with Pierce for a 42-yard TD strike with less than two minutes left.
However, Floyd ended the B.C. threat by intercepting Pierce on the Lions’ final possession.
“We have the potential to win all of those games but potential gets you nowhere,” Simon said of the Lions’ winless start to their season.
“The guys have got to start playing up to their potential. We’ve had too many missed opportunities and the result is we’re 0-2.” Pierce, who had 333 passing yards in 40 attempts, said his club still didn’t play well enough although he was only sacked once compared to nine times in Regina.
“It’s unacceptable,” he said of the B.C. effort. “I thought we jumped on them early and just let up. We just made some mental mistakes.”
NOTES: The Ticats were without their top three running backs … Kenton Keith is on the nine-game injured list while Terry Caulley and Tre Smith were sidelined with injuries suffered in the opening week loss to Toronto … Paris Jackson played his 100th CFL game … Hamilton imports Floyd, Jamall Johnson and Markeith Knowlton are all former members of the Lions linebacking corps … the two teams surrendered a combined 15 sacks in their Week 1 losses.