Jonathon Jennings and the BC Lions clawed their way to a 22-10 home victory over the Montreal Alouettes in the Week 1 finale on Saturday night. The Lions’ versatile quarterback got his 2018 season off to a hot start, completing 20 of 24 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns while also adding a career-high 57 yards on the ground. BC’s defence did its part as well, adding an interception and five sacks to help hand Montreal their 12th-straight loss.
The Alouettes came out strong on their opening possession, with running back Tyrell Sutton carrying the ball five-straight times to put the Lions’ defence on their heels. Receiver B.J. Cunningham appeared to give Montreal the early lead with a long 52-yard touchdown catch, but the play was called back on a holding penalty.
Drew Willy and the Als’ offence made up for it just two plays later after the veteran quarterback found receiver Chris Williams deep down the field for a 56-yard connection. The ball was knocked loose before Williams could cross the goal line, but receiver Eugene Lewis was there to recover it in the end zone for his first career CFL touchdown. Kicker Boris Bede added the extra point to give Montreal the early 7-0 lead.
Jennings looked sharp on the Lions’ second offensive drive, zipping a slant pass to receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux to get things rolling. The athletic quarterback used both his arm and legs to push his team down the field, and BC’s passing attack found a steady rhythm that would continue throughout the game.
Receiver Bryan Burnham made an acrobatic 12-yard catch on the drive, and Jennings hit receiver Shaq Johnson on the very next play for a 35-yard touchdown. Johnson used his speed to gain separation and get open on the right side of the field, and kicker Ty Long knocked through the extra point to tie the game at seven apiece.
Montreal’s offence looked strong again on their second drive, with Willy hooking up with receiver Ernest Jackson for a big 54-yard strike. But Odell Willis’ first sack as a Lion stifled the Als’ drive, and they would settle for a 30-yard field goal to grab the 10-7 lead. Willy completed 10 of 12 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Jennings continued to make plays in multiple ways after the Lions got the ball back, as the quarterback found space in the Als’ defensive front for a 21-yard run to bring the Lions into Montreal territory. The Als’ defence bounced back on the drive to hold strong, and Long punted the ball for a single to bring BC within two points.
Running back Jeremiah Johnson began to get the Lions’ running game going in the second quarter, and Long would boot another punt for a single to bring the score to 10-9 in the second quarter.
Both defences stole the show in the third quarter, with both defensive lines clogging up running lanes and applying pressure to keep the big plays to a minimum. The lone score of the quarter would be a 27-yard BC field goal from Long, giving the Lions a narrow 11-10 lead.
BC continued to build momentum near the end of the quarter with Jennings completing seven-straight passes, and Long would knock through a 30-yard field to extend the Lions’ lead to 15-10 early in the fourth quarter.
The first turnover of the game came when Willy was picked off by Lions defensive back Garry Peters while trying to complete a short pass over the middle to Eugene Lewis. Jennings continued his big performance immediately after getting the ball back, calling his own number for a 16-yard scamper. The Lions’ offence capitalized on the Peters interception when Jennings connected with receiver Cory Watson for an 11-yard touchdown strike, giving BC a 22-10 lead that would hold to seal the Week 1 victory.
The Alouettes will look to bounce back when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Friday in Week 2, while the Lions will be off until travel to face the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 3.