The Headline: The BC Lions rout the Riders in preseason exhibition opener 44-10 at BC Place.
Don’t envy Coach Mike Benevides. Last night’s tilt with the green Riders was supposed to create some separation among the talented players on his roster; instead everyone looked so impressive it will be tough for him to pare down his squad.
One thing is for certain, Mike Reilly looks more than capable to fill in for Travis Lulay.
Benevides played the main offensive unit in the first quarter with Lulay leading the starters to two quick field goals, both by Paul McCallum.
The reins were then passed to Mike Reilly to open the second quarter. Reilly swiftly hooked up with SB Shawn Gore for a touchdown deep into the corner of the end-zone with a well-placed strike.
Reilly then completed back to back touchdown passes of 30 yards to WR Nick Moore. Moore, who was released by the BC Lions early last season, made an early statement with his actions that he wishes to stay on the roster in 2012.
Defensively the Leo’s kept a constant pressure on all of the Rider’s Quarterbacks. The relentless pass rush forced many poor or inaccurate throws, one of which ended up in the hands of LB Adam Bighill, who returned it 44 yards back to the house for a major.
The secondary had almost picture perfect coverage most of the game.
The Riders only major score was a touchdown through the air on an acrobatic one-handed catch by the Saskatchewan receiver even though DB Josh Bell had great position.
Rounding out the scoring was Andrew Harris on a late game, 2 yard carry as Coach Bene looked to work on his short yardage game plan.
Along with the play of Reilly and Moore, Anthony Stewart looked very promising returning kicks and 3rd round pick Matt Norman got the start and played the entire game at Guard.
Stewart will continue to push Tim Brown as the Lions top return man and Norman will have a major decision to make as he contemplates returning to school.
While the tackling and pursuit angles weren’t quite on point, Paris Jackson is in mid-season form already, demonstrating a thundering open field block on a Mike Reilly scamble.
What to make of it?
It is tough to put much stock in a preseason game between the reigning champions and a squad that failed to make the playoffs, but a 34 point margin of victory makes life a little easier for the players.
For the coaching staff though, personnel decisions have become a little more challenging.
Cheers, The Bartender