Travis Lulay threw two touchdown passes and Andrew Harris scored two TDs to lead the B.C. Lions to an emphatic 37-17 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night.
Lulay, the CFL’s outstanding player last season, hit Harris on an eight-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in the first quarter and extend his streak to 26 straight games with a TD toss. That gave Lulay the second-longest streak in CFL history behind Sam Etcheverry’s league record of 34 consecutive contests.
Lulay finished 27-of-34 passing for 343 yards before giving way to Mike Reilly late in the fourth quarter.
Harris set a new Canadian record for total yards from scrimmage with 1,644 yards.
Lulay’s dominant performance quieted the Ivor Wynne Stadium gathering of 26,842 watching the second-last CFL game at the 84-year-old facility that will be demolished at season’s end. The CFL club will move into a new stadium in 2014 and the following year the new building will stage the 2015 Pan Am Games soccer competition.
B.C. (11-4) moved closer to cementing a home playoff game despite being minus five stalwarts receivers Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce III, offensive lineman Jon Hameister-Ries and defensive linemen Khalif Mitchell and Eric Taylor. The Lions will clinch a home playoff date if Winnipeg beats Calgary on Saturday.
Hamilton’s playoff aspirations were dealt a severe blow.
The Ticats (5-10) are third in the East Division but trail Edmonton (6-9) in the crossover battle. If the Eskimos finish last in the West Division but post a better record than Hamilton, they’ll take the final Eastern conference playoff spot.
Hamilton’s dismal performance came a day after veteran running back Avon Cobourne questioned the effort of some of his teammates during the club’s final walkthrough. Cobourne’s 15-yard TD run and Andy Fantuz’s two-point convert pulled the Ticats to within 27-11 at 2:46 of the fourth, but B.C. countered with Tim Brown’s 77-yard kickoff return that set up Reilly’s one-yard TD plunge at 5:25.
Courtney Taylor had B.C.’s other touchdown. Paul McCallum booted three field goals and four converts.
Bakari Grant had Hamilton’s other TD. Luca Congi hit his 24th straight field goal before missing from 51 yards out late in the first half.
Lulay’s 17-yard TD strike to Taylor with 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter staked B.C. to a 21-3 half-time advantage. Lulay completed his first 12 pass attempts and finished the half 18-of-20 passing for 242 yards and two TDs.
B.C.’s offence controlled the ball for 18 minutes 55 seconds of the opening half and rolled up 269 total yards against a Ticats’ defence that came in ranked last overall in yards allowed (418.4 per game) and points allowed (31.7 per game). It also kept the ball away from a Hamilton offence that came in averaging a league-high 30 points per game.
But the under-achieving Ticats were booed off the field when the half ended.
Hamilton was also its own worst enemy, an offside penalty erasing a Ticats’ interception in the second. Later in the quarter, pass interference on defensive back Geoff Tisdale and an unnecessary roughness call on Dee Webb for a hit on B.C.’s Marco Iannuzzi resulted in 43 yards in penalties that set up Lulay’s pass to Taylor one play later.
Iannuzzi left with a suspected concussion, prompting Simon to tweet: “That was a BULLSH$(at)T hit by D Webb!”
NOTES Hamilton’s Tim O’Neill was ejected from the game with 51 seconds remaining following a melee . . . Players and coaches on both teams donned pink-coloured items as part of the CFL’s program to promote awareness of women’s cancer . . . With last weekend’s win over Calgary, B.C. clinched a playoff spot for the 16th straight season. The Lions also reached the 10-win plateau for the ninth time in 11 seasons . . . . In addition to Mitchell and Taylor, receiver Kierrie Johnson and defensive back Josh Bell didn’t dress for B.C. Fullback Sam Fournier, offensive lineman Nick Hennessey, receiver Aaron Kelly and defensive lineman Brandon Boudreaux were Hamilton’s scratches . . . The Ticats added former players Willie Bethea and Bob Krouse to their Wall of Honour at halftime.