Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Don Unamba falls to the ground after tackling B.C. Lions’ David Mackie, not seen, during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, on Saturday September 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

VANCOUVER — Ty Long’s 39-yard field goal in overtime gave the B.C. Lions a 35-32 comeback victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night.

The winning score came after B.C. and Hamilton exchanged field goals in overtime and Hamilton kicker Lirim Hajrullahu missed another three-point attempt in the extra session.

The Lions evened their season record at 6-6, while Tiger-Cats (6-7) dropped below .500 as they suffered their second-straight loss. Prior to Saturday B.C. had not sported an even mark since the second week of the season.

B.C. receiver Bryan Burnham’s second touchdown reception of the game and his successful two-point convert reception in the dying seconds of the fourth-quarter forced overtime. A video review determined that Burnham kept one foot in bounds on the two-point conversion after officials initially ruled an incomplete pass.

B.C. quarter back Jonathon Jennings picked up his first win as a starter since B.C.’s season-opening home win over Montreal in mid-June.

Cory Watson also scored a touchdown for B.C. and Ricky Collins supplied a two-point convert reception, while Long provided the hosts’ other points, including a pair of 50-yard field goals.

Mike Jones caught touchdown passes of 75 and 55 yards for Hamilton, while John White ran for another TD. Hajrullahu supplied Hamilton’s other points.

The Lions led 3-0 after the first quarter, but the Tiger-Cats turned their fortunes around with two quick touchdowns in the second quarter while shutting out the hosts — and kept the lead for most of the game before the late drama.

Jennings made his first start since a July 25 loss in Winnipeg, but he had played most of the previous two games, both wins, as a result of injuries to starter Travis Lulay, who is expected to miss four to six weeks due to a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder.

The Ticats played without top receiver and kick returner Brandon Banks (groin), while fellow pass-catchers Chris Williams and Jalen Saunders remained out with potentially season-ending health woes.

Hamilton has been dominant in the first quarter this season. But the Lions got on the scoreboard first, 10:55 into the game, after a couple of penalties forced them to settle for a Long 51-yard field goal. It was only Long’s second field-goal attempt from beyond 50 yards this season. He has been good on both of them.

The Ticats had a chance to draw even early in the second quarter, but Harjullahu sent a 42-yard field-goal attempt wide left, and Anthony Orange ran the ball out of the end zone, denying the visitors of a single point. On the next play, Jennings threw a 32-yard pass to Ricky Collins, but the Lions could not sustain the drive.

A little while later, the Lions had an interception by Anthony Thompson nullified by an illegal contact penalty. The miscue proved costly, because Orange was called for pass interference on the next play.

Two plays later, White ran for an eight-yard touchdown that staked Hamilton to a 7-3 lead.

The Ticats forced the Lions to go two-and-out on their next series. Then Jeremiah Masoli caught the B.C. defence unaware and completed a 79-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jones along the right sideline.

Hajrullahu’s convert gave Hamilton a 14-3 lead that held up until halftime.

RELATED: Lions thump Alouettes for first road win of CFL season

The Ticats amassed 191 yards in the first 15 minutes, while the Lions earned 147. B.C. was hampered by 105 yards in first-half penalties resulting from seven infractions. On the other hand, the Ticats were only penalized twice for a modest 23 yards.

Masoli completed 7-of-10 passes for 132 yards in the first 30 minutes, while Jennings went 11 for 17 and 121 yards.

Jennings and backup QB Cody Fajardo succeeded in reaching Hamilton’s red zone in the third quarter. After Jennings threw passes of 31 and eight yards, respectively, to DeVier Posey, Fajardo fooled the Ticats into thinking he was just coming in for a short-yardage plunge. Instead, he scampered to the Hamilton 13-yard line.

Two plays later, Jennings threw to Watson for a 13-yard touchdown and completed a two-point conversion pass to Ricky Collins, pulling the Lions within three points.

But soon after, Hajrullahu booted a 50-yard field goal to give the Ticats a 17-11 advantage.

Lions coach Wally Buono made a questionable call in the closing moments of the third quarter as he subbed in Fajardo for a second-and-two situation from the B.C. 31-yard line. Fajardo tried to bluff a plunge again, but this time handed the ball off to Rolly Lumba for no gain and the Lions were forced to punt.

The Ticats soon threatened to score, but B.C. linebacker Jordan Herdman limited Masoli to a two-yard run and sacked the QB on the next play. As a result, Hamilton settled for a 47-yard Hajrullahu field goal.

The Ticats thought they had recovered a Jennings fumble on B.C.’s next series. But upon a video review, the play was ruled an incomplete pass. That decision set the stage for Long’s second 50-yard field goal, which reduced B.C.’s deficit to 20-14.

B.C. defensive lineman’s Davon Coleman’s sack on Masoli and a Hamilton pass interference penalty led to then spurred a B.C. rally — which was aided by a Hamilton pass interference penalty — led to a Jennings nine-yard touchdown pass to Burnham.

Long’s convert gave the Lions a 21-20 lead. But Masoli connected with Jones for a second long-distance touchdown with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter, and Luke Tasker caught a pass for a two-point conversion to give the Ticats a 29-21 lead.

Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press

 

Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Simoni Lawrence, left, and B.C. Lions’ Jeremiah Johnson exchange words after Lawrence tackled Johnson during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, on Saturday September 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. Lions’ Bryan Burnham, right, is upended by Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Cariel Brooks after making a reception during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, on Saturday September 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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