Empire clash awaits

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The long-awaited regular season debut at Empire Field is finally here.

B.C. Lions fans got a taste of the temporary stadium during the preseason, but the real deal goes this Saturday at 7 p.m. when the Lions host the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Despite taking flack after a poor showing last year, the defensive unit stepped up its game Sunday, holding the Eskimos to only 10 points.

Defensive tackle Aaron Hunt said that although the group made several mistakes, it remained focused and kept pushing.

"We just came out and played hard," he said. "You got to keep it moving, you want to build off what you set already. You want to build up during the season, week by week we try to get better."

Saturday, the focus then shifts to fixing those mistakes, he added, and getting in the face of Riders QB Darian Durant who threw for 481 yards and five TDs last week.

Both teams are coming off victories in their season opener with the Lions needing six Paul McCallum field goals to defeat the Edmonton Eskimos 25-10 Sunday.

The Roughriders are looking to feed off their thrilling 54-51 overtime win in the Grey Cup rematch against the champs Montreal Alouettes in last week's CFL opener.

"They are a very good football team, they don't let the ups and downs of the game bother them too much," said coach Wally Buono. "It's going to be a tremendous evening at Empire. It's going to be really, really loud and obviously our fans are going to be the 13th man."

The Lions cannot play a shootout game with Durant and the Riders, especially after QB Casey Printers led his offence to only one touchdown -- a 61-yard run by Jamal Robertson.

"We just got to keep our momentum going into this game," said the running back. "Just try and put some more things together, that's what practice is for."

The Lions will need a crowd of over 11,282 (a number they should easily reach) to break the six-million-fan mark at Empire, having drawn 5,988,718 spectators from 1954 to 1982. It will also be their 13th season and 233rd home game at the site, with their last match being a 32-16 win over Montreal November 6, 1982.

The two teams split their 2009 games, both winning at home. The Roughriders beat the Leos 33-30 in overtime during their last meeting in October.


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