CFL: Roughriders 10, Lions 42
VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions gave a sneak peek of just how dynamic their offence can be in 2017.
Jonathon Jennings threw three touchdowns in the second quarter as the Lions cruised past the Saskatchewan Roughriders 42-10 in the CFL's pre-season finale on Friday night.
The third-year quarterback hooked up with Jeremiah Johnson, Bryan Burnham and Marco Iannuzzi before giving way to backup Travis Lulay just before halftime.
"We've still got a lot to improve on, and we left a lot out there, but you just see the play-making ability," said Jennings. "We're picking up from where we left off last year.
"We're excited to improve and take the heights even higher."
The Lions' attack, which was minus free-agent speedster Chris Williams as he continues to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament tear suffered last season, looked to be in mid-season form.
"We scratched the surface," said Burnham, who finished with four catches for 69 yards. "This offence is going to be really dangerous."
Lulay delivered a 12-yard TD toss to Emmanuel Arceneaux in the third quarter, while Loucheiz Purifoy added a defensive score.
Jennings finished 10-of-14 for 197 yards, looking cool and collected in his 28 minutes of action after a bit of a slow start. Swayze Waters was perfect on five converts for B.C., while Ty Long kicked seven points.
Josh Stanford responded with a touchdown, Tyler Crapigna had a field goal, and Quinn Van Gylswyk added an extra point for the visitors.
Kevin Glenn, in his third stint with Saskatchewan, started at quarterback and played the first quarter in his exhibition debut, going 5-of-7 for 81 yards.
"There were a couple guys that played their way on (the team)," said Roughriders head coach and general manager Chris Jones, who was 5-13 in his first season with the club. "And a couple guys that played their way off."
The Lions lost their pre-season opener in Calgary against the Stampeders 23-18 on June 6, while the Roughriders tied the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 25-25 in the first game at the new Mosaic Stadium in Regina last Saturday.
With the exhibition schedule now done, CFL teams have to declare their 46-man rosters on Saturday, meaning it will be a nervous night for players on the bubble.
One who won't be around for the Lions is linebacker Jason Arakgi. The CFL's all-time leader in special teams tackles with 194 informed his teammates after the game that he's accepted a job in medical sales and will be retiring after nine seasons.
"It broke my heart," the 32-year-old from Montreal said in the centre of an emotional locker-room. "It was something that I was really excited to move on to, but being here tonight ... it broke my heart saying goodbye to these guys and saying goodbye to football.
"I'll never forget all the things I learned while I've been here."
Lions head coach and general manager Wally Buono said Arakgi was an example of a player that got the most out of his career, and is now using it as a springboard.
"Here's what I told the players tonight, 'Use football, don't let football use you,'" said Buono, whose team is looking to improve on last season's 12-6 record. "Jason was a true soldier. He gave his heart all the time.
"A couple years ago we had to take his helmet away. We didn't trust him because he'd go back out there."
The Roughriders open the regular season on the road Thursday against the Montreal Alouettes. The Lions kick off two days later when the Edmonton Eskimos visit Vancouver.
Trailing 3-1 after the first, B.C. efficiently moved the ball on a drive that was capped by Jennings scrambling out of trouble to find Johnson from 11 yards out.
Jennings then found Burnham a little later from nine yards out for a 15-3 advantage before Iannuzzi got in on the action after a Saskatchewan turnover, hauling in a 33-yard TD to make it 22-3 at the break.
Lions defensive back Anthony Thompson, in a battle to start at corner, dropped a sure touchdown on a bobbled interception off a throw from Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge early in the third, but T.J. Lee, who tore his Achilles last July, would make amends for the secondary by grabbing a pick later in the quarter to set up Arceneaux's TD.
Purifoy, who would also added a late pick, then forced a fumble and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to make it 36-3.
Bryan Bennett, Saskatchewan's third quarterback of the night, got the Roughriders a little closer when he found Stanford on a 39-yard TD midway through the fourth before Long responded with two field goals to round out the scoring.
"What I liked most was the mindset," said Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian. "The mindset was right tonight."
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