VANCOUVER -- Tim Brown returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown while Andrew Harris racked up over 100 combined yards and a score of his own, as the BC Lions beat the Calgary Stampeders 26-22 on Saturday night.
The win evened the season-series between the two teams with two matchups remaining before the regular season ends.
Prior to the game, the Lions surprised the fans on hand at BC Place Stadium by introducing their brand new all-black uniforms in celebration of their 60th Anniversary Season.
The new duds must have sparked some momentum into the Lions, as it took just five plays for Travis Lulay and the offence to open the scoring.
Lulay, who entered the game having yet to eclipse 300 yards passing in a game, was nearly perfect, connecting on four consecutive passes, the last of which found Andrew Harris for a 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
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The score marked the first time this season the Lions found the endzone on their opening possession.
But BC’s excitement soon turned south, as Lulay’s pass intended for Nick Moore was intercepted by defensive lineman Charleston Hughes, who returned it six yards to BC’s 40 yard line.
The turnover proved to be costly a costly one for Lulay and the Lions.
Making his second consecutive start under centre, Kevin Glenn led the Stampeders on an impressive 10-play, 50-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard touchdown run by tailback Jon Cornish.
Glenn completed all four of his pass attempts on the drive, two of which found receiver Marquay McDaniel for a combined gain of 30 yards.
However, whatever momentum was taken from the Lions on the touchdown was quickly returned to the Lions.
On the ensuing kickoff, returner Tm Brown cut and juked his way through coverage for a 96-yard touchdown return, restoring BC’s seven-point lead in the process.
The return was Brown’s first career kickoff return for a major.
From there, the defences stood tall, specifically Calgary’s who forced the Lions to concede a safety with less than eight minutes to go in the first half.
After the Stamps’ defence did their part on the safety, the offence continued to contribute as well, with Glenn and Cornish at the forefront of the attack.
Taking over from BC’s 39 yard line thanks to a nice return by Larry Taylor that was pushed forward due to a 15-yard face-masking penalty by Lin J Shell, Cornish and Glenn quickly gave the Stamps their first lead of the game, needing only two plays to find the endzone.
Following an 11-yard run by Cornish, BC continued their undisciplined play, as Josh Bell was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty.
As a result, the Stamps were given a fresh set of downs on BC’s 14-yard line. The next play, Glenn hit McDaniel for a 14-yard catch-and-run TD.
But Calgary’s lead was short-lived.
With the three-minute warning in the rear-view mirror, the Lions reclaimed their first-half lead, as backup pivot Thomas DeMarco managed to cross the plane on a goal-line pileup.
A 12-yard run by Shawn Gore as well as a pass interference call in the endzone on Chris Randle allowed the Lions to set up on Calgary’s one-yard line prior to the touchdown.
The Lions would enter the half sporting a 21-16 lead.
In the second frame, Stampeders slotback Nik Lewis left the game with what head coach John Hufnagel confirmed to be a fractured fibula after the game.
In the first half, both running backs made their marks, with Cornish earning 40 combined yards and a touchdown, while Harris racked up 84 yards and a major of his own.
The second half got underway with both defences standing their respective grounds. In fact, there were four two-and-outs to start the third quarter, before the Lions were able to move the chains for a first down on their third possession of the half.
It wasn't until the late stages of the third frame that the half's first points were scored, as Rene Paredes extended his consecutive field goal record to 37, splitting the uprights from 32 yards out.
The field goal was a direct result of a fumble by Andrew Harris on the previous possession that was recovered by Deron Mayo.
However, Calgary's offence continued to have trouble, especially on the ground as Cornish was being contained to near perfection by BC's defence, led by some spectacular tackling by Solomon Elimimian.
The Lions would restore their slim five-point lead on the following possession, as Paul McCallum connected from 24 yards out. Two plays earlier, Lulay hit Emmanuel Arceneaux for a massive 37-yard catch. On the grab, Arceneaux climbed the ladder and managed to out-muscle Derrius Brooks to bring it down.
Hoping to give their offence a jolt of momentum, Calgary's special teams unit caught the Lions by surprise and executed a fake punt that saw punter Rob Maver connect with Rob Cote for a 22-yard gain.
However, the Stamps were unable to find the endzone, and were ultimately forced to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Paredes.
The field goal got the Stamps within two the Lions' lead with less than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Momentum appeared to swing further in Calgary's favour on BC's ensuing drive, as Lulay saw his pass intended for Courtney Taylor intercepted by Jamar Wall at the one-yard line.
But, as they had done all night, the Lions defence held firm and forced the Stamps to concede a safety on third down, extending their lead to four in the process.
Calgary would embark on one final drive with less than a minute left, but were unable to find the endzone, as the Lions hung on for their fifth win of the season.
In a losing effort, Cornish finished with 73 rushing yards and a major, as well as 19 addtional yards on three catches. Glenn, meawnhile, completed 22 of his 38 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown pass.
Defensively, Elimimian and Adam Bighill led the charge for the Lions, recording eight tackles apiece. The Stamps received some solid defensive play from Keon Raymond and Bolden, who combined for 13 tackles.
Next week, the Lions travel east to take on the Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium, while the Stampeders finish their mini road trip with a Friday night clash in Toronto.