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Mike Reilly, B.C. Lions steal gritty 25-23 win from Montreal Alouettes


VANCOUVER — Coach DeVone Claybrooks has watched his B.C. Lions fall apart too many times this season.

So when the squad held on for a 25-23 win over the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday, the rookie bench boss was understandably pleased.

The game saw the two sides trade leads several times and the Lions (4-10) suffered several setbacks, including miscommunications and unnecessary penalties en route to the win.

"To have the bad things happen and the guys still being able to rally and find a way to finish the game out, it's kudos to those guys and the resiliency and maturity of what we're trying to develop and lay the foundation for here," Claybrooks said after the game.

The Alouettes (7-6) nearly took the game in the final minutes after running back William Stanback made a 40-yard run to put Montreal in scoring position.

But B.C.'s defence made a pair of goal line stops before the Als attempted a quarterback sneak on the third down.

Antonio Pipkin fumbled the snap, dashing the Alouette's hopes of another last-minute comeback victory.

After the game, Montreal coach Khari Jones defended his decision to go for the touchdown instead of kicking a field goal.

"I would have done that in any situation. We've been really good on our third-and-ones to this point," he said. "With the time left on the clock, to give a guy like Mike Reilly that kind of time with needing one point, I thought that was going to be a little tough, too. I felt really comfortable with the call. I'd call it again. We just fumbled."

On the other side of the ball, Claybrooks said he challenged his d-line to make the stop instead of putting pressure on the offence to score with just seconds on the clock.

"I was like, 'No, let's see if we can stop them. Let's see what we can do. Let's put our cohones on the table and see what can happen,' " he said. "And those guys were able to step up and make a play."

B.C. defensive back T.J. Lee said the performance shows that he and his teammates have grown through a tough season.

"To be challenged at the very end like that, have defence pull through like that and offence hold it together for us to get that victory, it means a lot. It shows our progression and that we're reaping the fruits," he said.

"We've learned through the tough losses at the beginning of the season how to battle through adversity."

The victory keeps B.C.'s faint hopes of a playoff spot alive and means that Montreal will have to wait at least one more week to clinch a post-season berth.

The Alouettes should have starting quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. back in the lineup when they host the Calgary Stampeders next Saturday, however.

Adams was not available for this week's contest after the CFL suspended him for one game due to a helmet-swinging incident against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Matt Shiltz filled in at quarterback for the Als on Saturday, throwing for 177 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The 26-year-old Butler University grad also rushed for 62 yards and brought in a TD of his own.

The backup was uneven to start the game, Jones said, but eventually found his rhythm and used his legs effectively.

"They put a lot of pressure on him early on and we had quite a bit of sacks," the coach said. "But once he was settled in, I thought he played really nicely."

Pipkin and Eugene Lewis also found the end zone for the Alouettes, and kicker Boris Bede had a 16-yard field goal.

Lions quarterback Mike Reilly had 309 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception in the win.

He connected with Bryan Burnham and John White for TDs, and Sergio Castillo added four field goals, including a 48-yard kick.

White's major strike was the result of a five-play, 87-yard drive.

The running back celebrated by climbing into the stands and handing the ball off to his daughter, Londyn White, who was wearing an orange Lions toque.

Before the game, White told his little girl that he would bring her a football.

"I had to make the best of it, score that touchdown and get the ball to her," he explained.

The Lions have now won three games in a row after starting the season with a 1-10 record.

The two previous wins came against a struggling Ottawa Redblacks squad, but Reilly said beating a solid Montreal team on Saturday wasn't any sweeter.

"In pro sports, I don't care who you're playing — if you don't show up and play a good game, you're going to lose. So the last three have all felt good," he said.

In order to secure a fourth win in a row, the Lions will have to beat the Toronto Argonauts in Vancouver next Saturday.


NOTES: Field judge Brian Chrupalo was led off the field in the third quarter after he was flattened by a player. ... Castillo leads the league in percentage of field goals made with 91.4. ... Shiltz made just his second CFL start on Saturday. His last came on Nov. 3, 2017 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2019.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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