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© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
REGINA — BC Lions’ quarterback Nathan Rourke has been named the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian, becoming the first quarterback in franchise history to earn the achievement.
Rourke is the first quarterback to win the award since Gerry Dattilio did so with the Montreal Alouettes in 1980. He joins Dattilio and Russ Jackson as the only three quarterbacks in league history who have been named MOC.
In what was a truly remarkable year, Rourke finished the year completing 78.7 per cent of his 324 passing attempts and threw for 3,349 yards and 25 touchdowns while playing in just 10 games this season.
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Rourke said that by winning the award he hopes it will provide opportunities and open doors for more Canadian quarterbacks in the future.
“I just hope that moving forward it’s shown glimpses of myself and Tre Ford getting opportunities this year that Canadian quarterbacks will continue to be given opportunities,” said Rourke. “So hopefully that continues and hopefully we can continue to develop Canadians as well.”
Prior to suffering a foot injury in Week 11 that would keep him sidelined until the team’s final game of the regular season, Rourke led the Lions to an unexpected 8-1 start. In addition to helping the Lions burst onto the CFL scene in 2022, Rourke also repeatedly made league history through his first nine games.
In just his second game as the Lions’ starter, Rourke threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns, setting the all-time single game passing yards record by a Canadian quarterback. It’s a record that Rourke would go on to break twice more during the 2022 season. In Week 9, he rewrote his own record when he threw for 477 yards, only to follow it up with a 488-yard performance in Week 10.
Reflecting on the 2022 season, Rourke was thankful that the Lions organization displayed their confidence in him by naming him as the starter before training camp.
“It was extremely important for my confidence,” said Rourke. “I have tremendous respect for the front office and the head coacha nd the rest of the coaching staff of the Lions.
“I had a great chance to learn from the best in Michael Reilly in 2021 and for them to have put that kind of trust in me knowing it wasn’t a small decision at all, just right out of the gate. It made my off-season prep and going into training camp a lot of fun.”
The Lions’ offence finished the year as one of the most revered passing attacks in the country. BC’s offence led the league in passing yards per game (300.3) and completion percentage (71.6), while tying for the second lowest interception total with 13.
Rourke manned the pivot spot for 122 offensive possessions and led 38 touchdown drives for the Lions over the course of the regular season. With Rourke under centre, the Lions converted 31.1 per cent of their offensive possessions into touchdowns, which was the most of any quarterback in the league.
When attacking opposing defences downfield, Rourke proved to be the league’s most effective deep-ball thrower. He completed a league-high 65.3 per cent of his passes at a targeted depth of 20 yards or more, throwing for 1,122 yards, 18 touchdowns, just four interceptions and a quarterback efficiency rating of 158.3.
Toronto Argonauts’ receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. was the runner-up for Outstanding Canadian. He will play in Sunday’s Grey Cup game at Mosaic Stadium.