HAMILTON — The BC Lions will look to sweep their East Division road trip when they take on the Hamilton Tiger Cats at Tim Hortons Field to cap off Week 4 action.
The Lions have two straight wins against cross division rivals and are hoping to make the Ticats their next victims.
BC’s latest conquest in the East was a 23-16 win over the Montreal Alouettes in Week 3. Jeremiah Johnson had a big night with two touchdowns – one in the air and another on the ground – while posting 128 all purpose yards in the victory. Solomon Elimimian was a brick wall, breaking his own franchise record by recording an astounding 15 tackles.
Defence was the focus of the first three quarters as the game was a low scoring 9-6 affair in favour of the Lions heading into the final 15 minutes. BC was finally able to expose the Als’ defence late in the game as Jonathon Jennings orchestrated two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter for the win.
BC’s run game has powered them to a 2-1 start as Johnson leads the league in rushing touchdowns with three. He also sits second in rushing yards with 196 through three weeks of play.
The rest of the Lions offence is off to a somewhat sluggish start compared to the 2016 version of themselves. Jennings has managed just two touchdown passes so far this season while receivers Emmanuel Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham both have more to show after both easily surpassed the 1,000 yard receiving mark last season.
This game has the potential to be a coming out party for the Lions’ offence with the Ticats giving up the most points per game on average in the CFL heading into Week 4.
“We want to be more consistent,” Jennings told BCLions.com. “We keep saying that each week but at the end of the day, all that matters is us getting a win. We want to obviously continue to build upon what we’ve been doing in the previous weeks.
“I think we’re doing some good stuff… I just hope we can fill those gaps with consistency.”
The Lions have officially placed their kicking duties in the trust of rookie Ty Long after the team released veteran Swayze Waters earlier in the week.
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The Ticats do not plan to make things easy for the Lions in their home opener and will be hungry for their first win of 2017 in front of a hometown crowd.
The Black and Gold are looking to turn things around after an 0-2 start. The Ticats showed some improvement last week in a 37-20 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Justin Rogers had the highlight of the game when he picked off a Kevin Glenn pass in the end zone during the first quarter and ran it back 110 yards for a pick-six. The Riders’ offence overpowered the Ticats the rest of the way as Glenn threw for almost 400 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Collaros could not keep pace, managing just 189 passing yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
Head coach Kent Austin says he has faith in his quarterback despite a slow offensive start.
“Zach is mentally tough,” Austin told Ticats.ca. “He’s a pretty strong individual. He prepares well. He wants to be really good, his teammates know that. He leads by example. I’m not worried about Zach.”
The Ticats offence will remain the same from Week 3. Ross Scheuerman will get his second start at running back in place of C.J. Gable. The Ticats favoured the passing game last week as Scheuerman managed just 19 yards on five touches. Keon Lyn will start at strong side linebacker in the absence of Will Hill, who is serving a one game suspension for grabbing a referee.
Can Collaros and the Ticats pick up their first win of the season in their home opener?
By The Numbers:
0 – Lions’ losses against the Ticats with Jonathon Jennings as a starter (3-0).
1 – Passing touchdowns for the Ticats through two games.
5 – League leading rushing touchdowns for the Lions.
15 – Career games Solomon Elimimian has recorded 10-plus tackles.
18 – Average points per game for Hamilton, ranking at the bottom of the league.
62 – Percentage of overall points the Lions have scored in the fourth quarter this season. Fourty-eight of their 78 total points have been scored in the final 15 minutes.
The Lions are playing their last match of a three-game Eastern road swing, meaning that fatigue could be a factor. They will also have the added challenge of competing in one of the rowdiest stadiums in the CFL. The donut box is sure to be extra loud on Saturday for the Ticats home opener.
Yet, almost every statistical category favours the Lions heading into this Week 4 matchup. BC boasts one of the best defences in the league through the beginning of 2017, only allowing 20 points a game on average heading into Week 4. The Ticats have struggled to put points up on the board thus far, averaging a league low 18 points through their first two games.
The Lions will also have an opportunity to expose a Ticats’ secondary that will be without two of their top defenders for a third straight game. Abdul Kanneh has yet to make his Ticats regular season debut and is still on the one-game injured list while fellow CFL all-star Emanuel Davis is expected to remain on the sidelines for the next few weeks.
The Lions are 9-1 against East Division opponents dating back to last season.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and can be followed live via CFL.ca Game Tracker or seen on TSN and ESPN3.