VANCOUVER — It was after Week 2 of the CFL season when the B.C. Lions were stumbling along winless and looking like a team with no chance at playing in a championship Grey Cup game that they are set to host.
That feels like a long time ago now after quarterback Kevin Glenn had 301 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, as the Lions rolled over the Montreal Alouettes 41-5 for their second straight victory.
Glenn was impressive, going 23-for-31 before leaving late in the third with a minor muscle strain that he says isn’t serious. As for those critics coming after Glenn and his Lions after Week 2 — when they lost 24-9 to the Als in Montreal — the quarterback says everything is right on track.
“It’s a marathon, and you want to gradually get better every week,” he said. “Last week we weren’t perfect and naturally this week we weren’t perfect, but we made plays when they were called upon.
“We want to make sure we’re growing as a team till the end of the year when you’re playing your best football.”
Wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux caught three touchdown passes, including both of Glenn’s, as the Lions moved to 2-2 after last week’s impressive 26-13 win in Regina.
The Als , meanwhile, have just one win on the season — against B.C. — and it was a tough outing for Montreal quarterback Troy Smith, who finished with a scant 45 yards passing before being replaced in the fourth.
“It’s not what we are, but it was what we were tonight,” said a downcast Als head coach Tom Higgins. “Credit the B.C. Lions, they did almost everything that they needed to do. We did not execute.”
The West Coast has rarely been kind to the Alouettes as they’ve now been outscored 163-30 in their last four games in Vancouver. Their last win in B.C. was way back in 2010, when the Lions played in Empire Field for one season.
But as easy as it is to point to Montreal’s damning history in Vancouver some of the credit must go to an improving quarterback in Glenn. The 35-year-old veteran, brought in in the off-season to back up injured started Travis Lulay, has been steadily improving as of late and feeling more comfortable with the Lions offense.
“That’s what happens when you’re a new guy on a new team — it takes a little time to get comfortable and get going,” said Glenn. “And everybody wants it to happen faster, but sometimes it’s just what happens. It takes a couple games to get in the groove and the game plan running your way.”
Glenn surpassed a milestone on the first play of the game. He ducked a hard tackle before throwing a 16-yard bullet down the middle to slotback Courtney Taylor that put him over 40,000 career yards.
Glenn then found Andrew Harris, who carried it for a gain of 33 yards to put B.C. at the 23 and a first down. Two incompletes later and Paul McCallum kicked a 30-yard FG for the game’s first score.
Glenn was efficient on the Lions next possession, getting his team to the 36 before heaving a 35-yard TD strike to wide receiver Arceneaux for an early 10-0 advantage. That drive took only five plays and 62 yards.
The Als got on the board soon after as Brandon Whitaker took Montreal 41 yards on two rushes before a B.C. roughing the passer call put the Alouettes at the 35. After Troy Smith’s pass was nearly picked off, Sean Whyte kicked in a 42-yarder to make it 10-3 at 4:31 of the first.
McCallum kicked B.C. to a 13-3 lead at 3:48 of the second thanks to a drive by Glenn. He slung a 25-yard pass to slotback Shawn Gore before finding both Stefan Logan and Taylor to put B.C. inside the red zone. Glenn couldn’t finish the drive, so McCallum kicked it in from 16 yards out.
It got worse for Montreal minutes later when a blocked punt by Khreem Smith was recovered by defensive tackle Eric Taylor, who huffed it 19 yards to put the Lions back in scoring position. Courtney Taylor’s 7-yard TD was called back to the one, but backup QB Travis Partridge punched it in – his first pro TD – and the Lions had a 20-3 lead at the half.
B.C. went right back to work in the third as a scampering Glenn found Arceneaux for a 35-yard gain and then again down the middle to put the Lions back in the redzone. From deep in the pocket it was once again Glenn connecting with Arceneaux as B.C. took control with a 27-3 lead at seven minutes.
Smith’s nightmare game continued on the next possession when rookie DE Alex Bazzie sacked him for a quick three and out.
“Some of the challenges that people just don’t know is there’s times when it’s just not the quarterback’s fault,” said Higgins.
“(Smith) is standing there and someone’s not running where they’re supposed to. We need to examine all of those things.”
Lions backup John Beck came in for the third and picked up where Glenn left off, hitting Arceneaux with a 27-yard touchdown pass to make it 34-3 and put the game out of reach. That was Arceneaux’s third major of the game.
“Manny’s an elite player,” said Lions head coach Mike Benevides. “He’s a big time player. As hard as he works and as gifted as he is, I’m not surprised at all (he’s playing well). I’m so grateful that’s he on our team.”