Ed Willes: Defence dominates Als in 32-14 road win, but Leos lose Lulay to injury

MONTREAL — The B.C. Lions recorded a win that might change their fortunes on Friday while suffering an injury that will certainly change their season.

A 32-14 victory here against the Alouettes was the Lions’ first road win of the CFL season but it came at considerable cost.

Here’s what we learned at Percival Molson Stadium:

Lulay separates shoulder

On his first passing attempt of the game, Lions’ quarterback Travis Lulay hit Bryan Burnham for 41 yards. On the second, an incompletion, he was hit and planted by the Als’ John Bowman and landed on his left shoulder with Bowman’s weight on him.

Lulay left the game. The initial diagnosis is a separated shoulder. The recovery time has been estimated at four to six weeks, which would bring us to the end of October.

“The good thing is, right now, it’s his left shoulder,” said Lions’ head coach Wally Buono. “Travis feels good where he is. It’s not his throwing shoulder. That’s very important.”

Jonathon Jennings came in for Lulay and hit Burnham for a 16-yard touchdown on his first play. Sadly, he might have peaked too early. Jennings completed three of his first four passes for 45 yards and one score. Through the remainder of the first half he was four for eight for 20 yards and threw an interception.

To his credit, Jennings rallied the offence, sort of, after the Als took the lead on a blocked field goal which they returned for a touchdown, giving them a short-lived lead late in the third quarter.

After the Als’ touchdown, Jennings came back and led the Lions on a drive that resulted in a Ty Long field goal and a lead the Leos wouldn’t relinquish. Jennings finished the game completing 19 of 30 passes for 180 yards, but his longest gain was 18 yards.

The Lions are now 5-6 on the season and back in the playoff picture, but they’ll need better quarterbacking if they’re going anywhere this season.

No offence, but offence shaky

The issue for the Lions, as you must know by now, isn’t the defence. For the fifth straight game, they allowed 24 points or less while contributing two touchdowns on interception returns by T.J. Lee and Anthony Orange, four picks in total, seven sacks and held the Als and rookie quarterback Antonio Pipkin to under 200 yards in net offence.

But if it isn’t the offence sabotaging the defensive effort it’s the Lions’ penchant for self destruction.

With the Lions holding a 13-7 lead and in control late in the third quarter, the Lions had second and two from the Alouettes’ eight-yard line and ran scatback Chris Rainey into the middle of the line.

Rainey, predictably, failed to pick up the first down. On the next play, Chip Cox blocked a Ty Long field-goal attempt that Tevaughn Campbell returned 87 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.

Lee’s interception return with just over three minutes left would finally give the Lions some breathing room.

“We’ve been playing great at home but stealing this one, especially dominating on defence, is a great feeling,” said Orange.

“The veteran guys were saying don’t panic,” said Buono. “They kept everyone cool.”

Als agonize with QB issues

The Alouettes, meanwhile, have quarterbacking issues of their own.

In the run-up to Friday’s contest, Johnny Manziel complained loudly to the Montreal media about the lack of confidence the organization had shown in him.

Manziel, you may recall, was rushed into his first start with the Als, promptly served up four interceptions against Hamilton, came back with a better effort against Ottawa but was concussed in the late going of another Alouettes’ loss.

Pipkin, who was signed by the Als after he’d been cut in training camp, had three strong outings before Friday night but didn’t exactly take permanent ownership of the position with his performance. He threw two interceptions in the first half, then served up a room-service pick six to T.J. Lee late in the fourth quarter.

Orange then contributed a 50-yard pick six with two minutes left that meant the Lions’ defence scored one more touchdown than their offence.

Manziel figures to start the Alouettes’ next game.

Play of the game

With the Lions clinging to a four-point lead and the offence stalled, T.J. Lee jumped an out route and went 37 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.

Player of the game

Virtually every member of the defence had a moment on Friday. Lee delivered the game’s defining moment. Orange had two picks and a touchdown of his own. Bo Lokombo had an interception and a  sack. Shawn Lemon and Davon Coleman were both credited with two sacks.

Give the game ball to Lee.

ewilles@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/willesonsports

NEXT GAME

Saturday, Sept. 22

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at B.C. Lions

7 p.m., B.C. Place Stadium, TSN, TSN 1040 AM

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