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Lulay overcomes rough first half to win Grey Cup MVP award

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The Canadian Press
11/28/2011 1:54:40 AM
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VANCOUVER -- Travis Lulay started the 99th Grey Cup looking like a young quarterback overwhelmed with the prospect of playing in his first CFL championship.

But when the B.C. Lions needed him most, he showed why he's the league's most valuable player.

Lulay overcame some first-half jitters and made some big second-half plays, leading the B.C. Lions to a 34-23 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Sunday's Grey Cup game.

Already the league's outstanding player this season, Lulay can now call himself Grey Cup MVP. Lulay finished 21-of-37 passing for 320 yards and the two touchdowns.

His two TD passes in the second half -- his first two against Winnipeg this season -- gave the Lions a big enough cushion to weather a desperate Blue Bombers comeback late in the game.

"Execution-wise it wasn't perfect, it probably wasn't as good as our last couple of games have been but we just kept battling and made the plays we needed to make," said Lulay.

"Winnipeg made it interesting at the end, kept us holding our breath a bit. It's pretty sweet."

His poise in the second half was in contrast to how he started the game. He looked good on B.C.'s second possession that led to an Andrew Harris touchdown run, but otherwise he failed to put up big points despite being constantly granted excellent field position to start drives.

Following Harris's touchdown, the Lions had three straight drives that started in Winnipeg territory. They only managed to get a field goal and a single out of those opportunities.

Lulay was often overthrowing receivers, or he was getting hit hard by Winnipeg's defence. By halftime, he had completed just half of his passes.

But with the last play of the third quarter, Lulay found Kierrie Johnson with a 66-yard strike to put B.C. ahead 24-9.

He was then given a reprieve in the fourth quarter when a sure interception by Winnipeg's Odell Willis was knocked away by Ben Archibald.

"It was a screen pass and Odell sniffed it out," Lulay said. "Ben made a huge play because (Willis) had nothing but room in front of him."

Lulay responded by marching the Lions 82 yards, hitting Arland Bruce III with a six-yard TD strike for a commanding 31-9 advantage.

The Blue Bombers made it close, but B.C. was able to control the ball enough late in the game to ensure the victory.

He was asked after the game whether B.C could repeat as Grey Cup champions next season.

"Boy, thinking to next year already, huh? I honestly don't know where people at contract-wise and their careers but there are a lot of good football players on this team," he said.

"It's a very special group, a mentally tough group to battle back from being 0-5. You can't say enough about that aspect of guys on this team."

Travis Lulay (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
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