Lions’ air attack leads way to win over Riders

REGINA — Nathan Rourke continued his strong season in Week 8 by leading the BC Lions to a 32-17 comeback win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders with three total touchdowns.

The 24-year-old quarterback from Oakville, Ont., completed 82 per cent of his passes for 336 yards and two second-half touchdowns while helping BC improve to 5-1 for the first time since 2007.

Rourke leads the league in touchdown passes (16), passing yards (1,941) and completion percentage (79.3) among all starters. The Canadian pivot also added a rushing touchdown against the Riders and now has four this season.

“We’re very confident that when we execute to the best of our abilities, we don’t feel like there’s anybody who can get in our way except ourselves,” Rourke told reporters after the win.

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The Lions started slow and found themselves trailing 17-4 in the second quarter at Mosaic Stadium, but the defence shut out Saskatchewan the rest of the way while the team scored 28 unanswered points.

Three different BC receivers made a big impact against the Riders. Dominique Rhymes scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, while Jevon Cottoy caught a touchdown to extend the lead in the fourth. Keon Hatcher led the way with a game-high 110 receiving yards on seven grabs

“Good teams find a way, especially in this environment. This is not an easy place to win,” Rourke said.

Defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy said the defence knows if they do their part the offence will eventually capitalize on an opportunity. He helped close out the game by intercepting Cody Fajardo with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got each other’s back, so when they are playing down we just keep them in the game,” Purifoy told TSN after the win. “We know what kind of offence we’ve got; they’re explosive, and if we keep them in the game we know they’re going to make plays.”

The Lions’ offensive line also bounced back in the second half while giving Rourke time to make key throws down the field. The unit faced a tough task against a strong defensive line and was victimized early for a strip-sack that led to a Riders touchdown drive. But they ultimately rebounded and didn’t give up a single sack after that.

“It’s big for a quarterback when you can have confidence that you’re going to have a little bit of time. So kudos to them. They did a great job; I’m really proud of them,” Rourke said.

The Lions will look for their third straight win when they host the Edmonton Elks in Week 9 action on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 10 p.m. ET.

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