A couple of six picks helped the BC Lions move closer to home playoff spot with a 40-32 win over the championship-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Vancouver on Saturday.
Halfbacks TJ Lee and Marcus Sayles each picked up interceptions and made huge runs for touchdowns in a win that gave BC (11-5) sole possession of second place in the West Division of the CFL.
It was a mixed night for Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who pitched for 138 yards and completed 13 of 22 attempts with a touchdown. He added 18-yard runs and was fired three times.
There were several new faces in the Winnipeg lineup when manager Mike O’Shea decided to give some of his usual starters a rest, including quarterback Zach Collaros.
WATCH | A pair of pick-sixes guide the Lions past the Bombers:
On his first CFL start, Dru Brown threw 325 yards pass for the Blue Bombers (14-3), connecting on 28 of 39 attempts with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The second-year QB was fired three times.
Winnipeg kicker Marc Liegghio struggled, missing three long field goal attempts. He was successful on a 38-yard kick.
Under 13 points to start the final frame, Winnipeg refused to give up.
Brown found Rasheed Bailey deep in BC territory early in the quarter with a 15-yard catch and the American catcher plummeted two yards for a touchdown to close a seven-game 85-yard drive.
The Lions responded with Whyte’s 25-yard field goal.
Lee scored the win just over two minutes from the end of the game clock, eliminating Brown’s pass to Nic Demski and sprinting 102 yards for a touchdown
A successful convert from a Whyte point gave the Lions a 40-24 pillow.
The Blue Bombers kept pushing and added another TD to the scoreboard before the match was over.
Brown delivered a crisp 11-yard pass to Bailey in the end zone with less than 70 seconds left, then linked with Demski for a two-point conversion that reduced the Lions lead to 40-32.
Whyte’s 26-yard kick set the hosts up 30-17 at the end of the third quarter.
The Bombers took BC’s lead early in the frame as the CFL’s main catcher made his first catch of the night.
Brown sent a 22-yard arc pass to Dalton Schoen, who made a difficult catch at the edge of the end zone. The touchdown, Schoen’s 14th of the season, reduced Winnipeg’s disadvantage to 27-17.
The Lions took a 27-10 lead in the first half, also thanks to a winning challenge from the manager.
The Lions took advantage and Adams rounded off the score with a 23-yard throw to Dominique Rhymes in the end zone. The touchdown was Rhymes’ eleventh of the season.
A missed field goal helped BC increase its lead to 20-10 at the start of the frame.
Leigghio’s 52-yard attempt fell and Williams picked up the ball, returning it for 90 yards and putting the Lions in scoring position. Adams was unable to find a teammate in the end zone, but Whyte put three points on the scoreboard with a 16-yard field goal.
BC got a great play from his defensive unit in the middle of the second. Marcus Sayles knocked out Brown’s pass and executed it in 45 yards for a TD.
Winnipeg leveled the game temporarily 10-10 early in the quarter when return Janarion Grant scored 94 yards down the sideline and entered the end zone on a punt return.
The Lions opened the second with a 41-yard field goal from Whyte, putting the hosts ahead 10-3. Running back James Butler put BC in scoring position with a 36-yard run to finish the first.
The big races were one of the first themes for the Lions on Saturday.
Terry Williams opened the game with a 40-yard return kick and Adams went out of his pocket for a 16-yard run minutes later.
Winnipeg responded with a push of his own.
Brown showed his play on the ground with a solid 12-yard run per second down to get the Bombers into Lions territory. But the Winnipeg offense struggled and eventually settled for a 39-yard field goal on their first possession of the game.
The Lions will face the Elks in Edmonton on Friday, while the Blue Bombers are on their last farewell of the season. BC will close the regular season in Winnipeg on October 28th.