Lions spoil Esks' party

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:28 AM ET

EDMONTON - Maybe it was the early rain that made the B.C. Lions feel at home right from the get-go.

How else can you explain the way they broke out of the gate and rained on the Edmonton Eskimos’ home-opener parade in a 25-10 win Sunday night?

“You like the fact they competed, you liked the fact they were able to make plays when it was critical,” said Lions head coach Wally Buono.

“You like the fact the veterans set the tone. You look at Korey Banks, you look at Derrick Armstrong, Geroy Simon, Jamal Robertson, Paul McCallum. The veterans are the guys who made the big plays and the young guys will learn from that.”

First, it was veteran linebacker Banks laying a jarring blind-side hit on Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray, which Buono called the turning point that set the tone for the game.

So jarring that when the ball was scooped up by Keron Williams at the B.C. 24, it snuffed out the Esks’ opening drive, which had punched the ball to B.C.’s one-yard line.

“There’s a lot of plays out there that I can say turned the game around,” said Banks, who added his second sack later in the first

half. “It’s all about the win. Stats don’t matter to me. I love to win. It’s always hard to get that first victory — away, too.

“We started 1-4 last year and we’re on track now. We have good younger players mixed with a nucleus of veterans. We ain’t going to do nothin’ but get better. We don’t want nobody talkin’ about us ... keep it down. Leave us alone, we’re not good.”

Then, it was some pin-point passing by Lions QB Casey Printers, who found receivers wide-open in the underneath zone.

“We missed some opportunities, that’s what we come away from this game sayin’,” said Printers, making the most of his first-ever

season-opening start for the Lions. “We scored, but it just wasn’t enough. We should have dominated this football game.

“It eases the pain when you win, regardless of how it’s done, regardless of who’s carrying the load. As long as we win the football

game, things are looking up.”

If that wasn’t enough, running back Robertson broke out with a couple of long runs, including a high-stepping 61-yarder that staked the Lions to a 13-0 lead nine minutes into the second quarter.

“Oh, man, we’ve been working all week trying to get our chemistry together with the (rebuilt) offensive line,” said former Argo

Robertson, who finished with 168 yards on 11 carries in his first game as a Lion. “We came together today. They opened up some big holes for me and the outside receivers were blocking very well. That gave me the opportunity to run a bit.

“It’s exciting to win. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that winning feeling.”

Paul McCallum tied a team record hitting all six field goals attempts, connecting from 44, 50, 30, 28, 18 and 26 yards.

“It’s a good way to start the season, absolutely,” said McCallum, who set the record in 2006. “It’s good to go out there and help the team, but you don’t want to go out there and kick that many field goals. We want to be able to punch the ball in and score more touchdowns.

“Hopefully, the numbers will go down a little when we start moving the ball a little better offensively.”

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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