The B.C. Lions beat the never-give-up Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-38 Saturday night in Vancouver.
Zach Collaros, making his 2016 debut after an 11 month layoff rehabbing his right ACL, was sacked on his first pass attempt and fumbled the ball.
The Lions recovered the ball and on the next play, Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings chucked a 72 yard long bomb touchdown to receiver Bryan Burnham for an 8-0 lead after the Leo’s punched in a two point convert, courtesy of a run by Jeremiah Johnson.
Hamilton’s next two drives ended with 27 and 54 yard field goals by Brett Maher before Lions kicker Richie Leone booted a punt into the Cats’ endzone to make it 9-6 B.C.
Just before the first quarter came to an end Lions speedster Chris Rainey returned a punt for a touchdown but it was called back on an illegal block penalty against B.C.
But the Lions found the endzone on a 6 yard rush by Johnson with no time left in the first quarter.
Instead of punting from deep in the Ticats endzone Maher conceded a safety that gave B.C. an 18-6 advantage.
Jennings picked up his second touchdown pass of the game, stretching B.C.’s lead to 25-6, when he fired a rocket into the arms of a jumping Emmanuel Arceneaux who made a terrific catch in the endzone in triple coverage.
The Cats cut B.C.’s lead to 25-12 halfway through the second quarter when Jeremiah Masoli plunged into the endzone from one yard out after a pass interference call on Chad Owens in the Lions’ endzone put the ball on the one yard line.
Collaros was sacked on the two point convert attempt.
Johnson scored his second touchdown of the game when he took the ball into the endzone from the one yard line.
Emanuel Davis picked off Jennings with 10:10 left in the third quarter and ran the ball back to the Lions’ two yard line when he tripped on the turf.
Two plays later, Collaros threw his first major of the season when he found Luke Tasker for a six yard score and cutting B.C.’s lead to 32-19.
It was Tasker’s first touchdown reception of 2016.
Leone smashed another long punt into the Hamilton endzone for a single and a 33-19 advantage.
Maher made his third field goal of the game, a 42 yard kick, to cut B.C.’s lead to 33-22 but then gave the Lions two points back when he conceded another safety.
Adam Bighill intercepted Collaros on the first play of the fourth quarter and returned it to the Hamilton 25 yard line and three plays later Leone booted a 27 yard field goal to give B.C. a 38-22 lead.
Collaros guided the Cats back down the field and into the endzone when he fired a 31 yard touchdown to Terrence Toliver and floated a pass to Andy Fantuz for the two point convert.
Leone missed a 36 yard field goal and Brandon Banks returned it 126 yards for a touchdown with 4:15 to play in the game.
The Cats tied the game at 38 when Collaros and Tasker hooked up for a two point convert.
Jennings and Arceneaux teamed up on a 30 yard touchdown to give the Lions a 45-38 lead with 1:23 to play in the game.
3-and-3 Hamilton returns home next Saturday night when they host the 1-and-6 Saskatchewan Roughriders.