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Career night for Jennings keeps the Riders winless

Jennings has a career game that nets Wally Buono his 400th career coaching win.

The two teams came into this game looking for redemption. B.C. was coming off a terrible home loss to the Argos in which their starter, Jonathan Jennings, was chased from the game. Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were still winless on the year, trying to break the goose egg in the win column at Mosaic Stadium in front of the Rider faithful.

Both teams punted on their opening possessions. The B.C. Lions were able to score a single off the foot of punter Richie Leone for a 1-0 lead early.

Saskatchewan responded with a 41-yard field goal by Tyler Crapigna to make it a 3-1 game.

B.C. was able to get the game’s first major in spectacular fashion. In what was initially a hand off to Anthony Allen, he was quickly stuffed by the Rougrider defenders but still had the presence of mind before making contact with the ground to pitch it back to quarterback Jonathan Jennings, who was able to take the ball and run it 6-yards for the score and a 7-3 B.C. lead. The Lions failed on a two-point convert attempt and the score stayed as so going into the second quarter.

Saskatchewan were finally able to respond on their first possession of the second quarter as Darian Durant found Rob Bagg on a 31-yard touchdown pass. Although the Riders took a penalty on the initial convert, Crapigna still nailed the kick through on the next play for a 10-7 Roughriders lead.

Darian Durant appeared to be injured after a diving tackle by Mic’hael Brooks awkwardly caught his leg. Durant was sent off to the dressing room for further evaluation. Mitchell Gale came into the game as his replacement. A 47-yarder off the foot of Crapigna later made it a 13-7 lead.

Later on, the Riders were able to force a fumble by the Lions and were able to reocover the ball in good field position. Just four plays later Mitchell Gale found Nick Demski on a slant round just across the goal line for yet another Roughrider touchdown as they went 20-7 up after the convert, much to the delight of the Roughrider faithful.

A Richie Leone 29-yarder later made it 20-10, while Saskatchewan responded with another field goal of their own to make it a 23-10 game heading into halftime.

The Roughriders were riding high heading into the second half while the Lions were a team trying to come up with a response down by 13. A Leone single opened the scoring in the second half to make the score 23-11.

The Lions then pulled a great play out of their bag of tricks on the next possession. Usually lining up as a tackle, the B.C. Lions lined up 6’6”, 325lbs Jovan Olafloye for a great touchdown pass that had the B.C. bench and their fans grinning from ear to ear as the big man got in on the fun. After the convert the score was now 23-17 and after a successful two-point convert run, the score was now just 23-19.

B.C. had been gaining traction as an offense and to end the third Jennings completed a 36-yard bomb to Bryan Burnham for the big gain. After this 9-0 third, the Lions were on the cusp of taking full control of this game.

It did not take them long to assert that control in the fourth quarter. Jennings found Nick Moore on a 30-yard touchdown pass and after the Leone convert the score was 26-23, in favour of the B.C. Lions.

Saskatchewan was able to to tie the score later on a 22-yard kick by Crapigna that deadlocked things at 26-26, but not for long.

On their second possession after that field goal, Jonathan Jennings uncorked a massive 59-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Shawn Gore, that had snuck into a soft spot in coverage, and he had an easy run into the endzone for a touchdown. After the convert the score was 33-26 for B.C.

A missed field goal attempt by Crapigna gave the Riders what would turn out to be their last points of the game, a single on a missed 34-yard attempt by Tyler Crapigna went through the end-zone and made the score 33-27.

Towards the end of the fourth, the B.C. Lions once again showed great poise as Jennings led his team to the red-zone again, before handing off to Anthony Allen for a 7-yard touchdown scamper. B.C. missed on the two-point convert attempt so the score did not change.

A punt single by Leone rounded out the scoring at 40-27 and capped off a huge night for the B.C Lions as they responded on the road to a big home loss to the Argonauts last week, while keeping the Roughriders still winless on the season.

Jonathan Jenning had a career night for the Lions, going 25 for 40 passing while throwing for 429-yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions and 30-yards on five carries rushing – all career highs for the young quarterback. The Lions always had an answer in the second half, and stayed true to their fine form before last week’s loss to Toronto. This was also a milestone win for B.C. head coach Wally Buono who got the 400th win of his illustrious career in this game.

The Roughriders played well in the first half, but just could not sustain that momentum, especially after yet another injury to quarterback Darian Durant who had gone 7/10 for 104-yards and one touchdown before the injury. Replacement Mitchell Gale went 17/30 for 247-yards and also one touchdown. The Roughriders performance in the second half simply wasn’t good enough if this team wants to break the 0 in the wins column. Head coach Chris Jones knows this and will work his hardest to get the Roughriders ready to hopefully not get questions swirling, as they probably will if the team manages to drop to 0-4.

Next week is a bye-week for the Lions to take off and recharge to get ready for Week 6 action. The Roughriders get right back at it as they host the red-hot Ottawa Redblacks on July 22 at 9:00pm EST to try and get that first win against what is considered by many the best team in Canadian football right now.

Riccardo Di Stefano

RealSport's Lead CFL writer and also a contributor of NHL content. Riccardo currently pursues many media interests as a freelance Master Control Operator for Bell Media in Canada while also running his own, now affiliated stream on Twitch at Twitch.tv/RicD55.

Career night for Jennings keeps the Riders winless

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