Lions sober up following loss

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

The streak is dead. Long live the streak.

After the 37-20 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos last Saturday, the 11-1 B.C. Lions can refocus on tightening their stranglehold on the West Division tomorrow night against the 7-6 Saskatchewan Roughriders at B.C. Place Stadium.

"Our goal wasn't to be 18-0, but to be in the best position to win the Grey Cup," said slotback Jason Clermont.

"Sometimes losses are sobering and they help you realize where you are weak or where your inadequacies are," said kicker Duncan O'Mahony. "We've got to regroup."

Lions enjoyed a potent early-season running game, but running back Antonio Warren has carried the ball just 30 times for only 100 yards in the last three games.

He ran a scant 22 yards on seven carries against the Eskimos -- his longest play was seven yards.

"You've got to have a balanced attack in the CFL and we haven't had our running game established for the last few weeks as well as we wanted to," Warren said. "We've got to step our game up."

Last time B.C. met the Roughriders was Aug. 27 in Regina when rookie quarterback Buck Pierce relieved an injured Casey Printers in the third quarter and turned a 15-5 deficit into a 19-15 win.

Riders come to B.C. with recent wins over the Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts and are in a three-way hunt for second-place.

Not only is revenge for the August loss on Saskatchewan's mind, but also the overtime loss suffered in 2004's western final under the dome.

"We always feel like we don't play a complete game with them," said veteran defensive end Daved Benefield. "It's important for us to take the crowd out of it. Last time it was noisy for a lot of marbles; it's still a damn important game, just not a western final, though."

Riders' roster includes several players who can wreak havoc. Running back Corey Holmes leads the league with 2,539 combined yards -- including 687 yards on 101 carries and touchdowns on both kickoff and punt returns.

Running back Kenton Keith is the league's third-best rusher with four touchdowns and 809 yards on 127 carries -- including a league-leading 75-yard carry against Winnipeg on Sept. 4.

They'll be fed by Marcus Crandell and/or Nealon Greene, who have split quarterbacking duties but recorded only six touchdowns apiece in the air.

Benefield and defensive lineman Turrell Jurineack will be setting their sights on sack-prone Dave Dickenson, while defensive back Omarr Morgan will be waiting in the backfield, hoping to build on his four interceptions.

"The intensity we play with Saturday is going to be important," said Lions' coach Wally Buono. "We're going to be facing very much the same opponent (as Edmonton); a team that wants to win, needs to win. If they do win, they control their own destiny."


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