'We're not getting discouraged'

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- The Renegades have reason to feel good about themselves following their visit to B.C. Place on Friday night.

They also have cause for concern.

A 37-29 loss to a strong team playing its home opener and coming off a bye week is respectable, especially when they still had a chance to win until Matt Kellett's on-side kick went OB with 32 seconds left and especially considering the fact they dropped their only other road game to date by 25 points.

But, like that lopsided loss in Edmonton, the offence made the defence play way, way too much.

Time of possession charts show Ottawa had the ball for just 23:01 while the Lions offence was on the field for 37:57.

Quarterback Kerry Joseph actually led his team to more yardage than the Lions, who are considered to have one of the most feared attacks in the CFL. But that was thanks to big plays, such as a 64-yard pass to Markus Howell, a 33-yard touchdown pass to Yo Murphy, a 35-yard pass to Jason Armstead, and runs of 29 and 21 yards by Joseph.

When it came to ball-maintaining drives that allow defenders a breather, the Renegades came up pitifully short. They had just 10 first downs (compared to 24 for B.C.), including just one in each of the first and third quarters.

"We made a lot of mistakes we're going to have to correct," said Joseph, who completed 13-of-22 passes for 227 yards and had one intercepted, plus rushed for 84 yards on five carries. "We're going to have to cut back on penalties. We hurt ourselves in critical situations."

Indeed, Ottawa was flagged 16 times for 132 yards while the the Lions took just eight penalties for 80 yards -- almost half a football field less.

The Renegades again had trouble giving Joseph time. He was sacked five times, and while he figured "two or three" were coverage sacks, he was often under intense pressure to get rid of the ball quickly. Just as a few of his long passes were right on the money, he also missed some he should have hit.

Before viewing the tape, coach Joe Paopao said he thought the Lions were getting past some of his veteran linemen. But tackles Ibrahim Khan and import Reggie Nelson also had their troubles.

Nelson, playing his first CFL game after spraining his right ankle in the pre-season, twisted his left one on the second play of the game.

"They did some good things on defence, they had me moving," said Nelson, who was moving with a limp early. "I've got to get better each week, health wise and playing."

Ottawa led 15-13 at the half before a dreadful third quarter that saw B.C. pull in front by 14.

One of the touchdowns was by Aaron Lockett on a 75-yard punt return. It was the biggest blackmark on special-teams units that allowed Lockett a combined 251 yards on kick and punt returns, had one Pat Fleming punt blocked and another tipped.

"That doesn't help the field position," said Jason Kralt, the veteran linebacker and special teams leader. "Where we lost this one was on special teams."

Morale in the locker room afterwards was quite high, nonetheless.

"We're going to be a good team," said Kralt. "We're not getting discouraged. This time, those of us on special teams didn't do enough.

''But it's not like 'Here we go again.' We don't have that attitude. We can win."

'KEEP FIGHTING'

Said an upbeat Joseph: "We hate to lose, but you can see out there that we're coming along. We've just got to be more disciplined, and we've got to keep fighting. Nobody believes in this team except for the guys in this room. Last year we started 3-0 and that didn't turn out for us. We've just got to stick together."

Paopao was not content with a decent showing.

"No, when you come up short, you can never be happy with that," he said. "But we're going to be a good team. I really believe that. We played a very, very good team (Friday) and for our development, we need to play these types of games. I'm proud of the effort, but disappointed about the result."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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