Breaking the 'Rider jinx

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The last time B.C. lost was July 14 when they fell short by a single point at home.

To the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

B.C. meets the same team Sunday with two big differences: The game is in Regina and the 'Riders of September are not those of July.

The August firing of GM Roy Shivers and installation of ex-Lions' GM Eric Tillman set a new tone for the remainder of the season.

Tillman has signed ex-Lion Yo Murphy to add another target to quarterback Kerry Joseph's arsenal. Third-place Roughriders enter the weekend four points behind the second-place Calgary Stampeders in the West playoff race. A win over the Lions would keep Saskatchewan's hopes for a home playoff game alive.

Lions, however, are only two points ahead of the Stampeders as the teams jockey to be best in the West.

"It's going to be a battle," said B.C. defensive back Dante Marsh. "Saskatchewan plays very well at Taylor Field. We've got to go in there and start fast and finish strong, we can't let a team like Saskatchewan stay around in the ballgame."

Not only would a Lions' win give B.C. seven in a row, but it would also prevent the Roughriders from gaining an edge by winning the season series. Tiebreakers can be handy things when summer turns to fall in the CFL.

Lions will also hope to avoid losing personnel. Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field, as it is now known, is not a kind place. Just ask Lions' receiver Tony Simmons, whose second season with the Lions ended when he tore knee ligaments on the "concrete tundra" of the Saskatchewan capital in June. Installation of FieldTurf cannot happen soon enough on the pitch named for "Piffles" Taylor.

There is one player who fell in love with Taylor Field in his first game there. When Casey Printers was knocked out of a game with a shoulder injury in 2005, untested Buck Pierce was thrust into play by head coach Wally Buono. Pierce engineered an unlikely comeback to keep the Lions' winning streak alive. If Dave Dickenson cannot play an entire game, B.C. will be in Pierce's able hands.

If the Lions emerge victorious and healthy, they'll be well-positioned for their final six-pack, regardless of what Calgary does this weekend. If the Lions don't succeed, then the home-and-home series with the Stamps on Oct. 6 in Alberta and Oct. 15 at B.C. Place Stadium will decide where the teams will finish.


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