THE CANADIAN PRESS
HAMILTON, Ont -- Heading into Friday night's encounter with the Tiger-Cats, the BC Lions have something to play for.
They can cement a home playoff game with a win over Hamilton and a Calgary Stampeders road loss Saturday to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
|Cortez lauds Lulay|
- Ticats Head Coach George Cortez
“It's a large game in terms of where both teams stand,'' said Lions rookie head coach Mike Benevides. “We have a tremendous challenge in front of us knowing that we have a desperate team.
“The fans here are always very boisterous, it's always very loud. They love their football and our team knows that and we're going to have to play extremely well to get the result we want.''
Ticats Head Coach George Cortez said Lions quarterback Travis Lulay, the CFL's outstanding player last year who has thrown a TD pass in 25 straight games, is the key to B.C.'s success.
“Lulay is the reason they are where they are, to be quite honest,'' he said. "If you let him get outside the pocket he's very dangerous because you can only cover the guys for so long.
“It's a big, wide field. He will run but he's really looking downfield to make a play.''
Lulay is third overall in passing with 3,800 yards and has 25 TD passes with 10 interceptions. He's also the league's top rushing quarterback with 467 yards on 64 carries (7.3-yard average).
“Travis has been spectacular, Travis has taken care of the football, he has delivered the ball and taken what the defence has given him so he has done an outstanding job,'' Benevides said. “There's no doubt the MVP of this league is the reason why we are where we are.''
But Lulay also spearheads a potent Lions offence that even without Bruce and Simon still boasts versatile Winnipeg native Andrew Harris at running back. Harris is third in CFL rushing with 915 yards, averaging a solid 6.4 yards per carry. He has also registered 43 catches for 403 yards and leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,544.
The Lions' offensive line not only anchors the league's top ground attack (130.6 yards per game) but has allowed CFL-low 14 sacks.
“What I'm most proud of this group this season is the expectations, adversities, all the things we deal with, it has been about team,'' Benevides said. “Travis is what makes us go but there's a tremendous offensive line that protects the quarterback better than anybody else.
“There's a tremendous balance in the running game.''
Lulay said while the Lions lose veteran experience with Simon and Bruce out of the lineup, they gain plenty with youngsters Earnest Jackson, Kierrie Johnson and Nick Moore lining up at receiver.
“What we lose in savvy and experience not having Geroy and Arland we gain a little bit with youthful exuberance, the excitement to play and appreciation for an opportunity,'' Lulay said. “Those guys are hungry to go out and play and want to play well for their teammates.''
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|