Rourke leads Lions to win over Roughriders, B.C. off to best start since ’07 – Sportsnet.ca
REGINA — It took a little while but the B.C. Lions offence continued to roll in a 32-17 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday.
The Lions fell behind 17-4 in the second quarter but responded with 28 unanswered points to improve their record to 5-1 while dropping the Riders to 4-4.
Nathan Rourke, who continues to shine in his first season as the starting quarterback, said that while there was some concern about the slow start, the Lions were confident they could find their way as the game progressed.
“There was nothing special (to the comeback). They were just there making some plays and we just needed to execute at (a) higher level. We’re very confident that when we execute to the best of our abilities, nobody can get in our way except ourselves,” said Rourke.
“Credit to Saskatchewan, they made some great plays early on but we found a way. I’m extremely proud of the guys for doing so.”
Like Rourke, defensive lineman Mathieu Betts was confident the Lions had the time and ability to turn the game around.
“The vibe was good even though we were down, but the way Number 12 can play, we know we’re always in the game. We really didn’t change anything defensively. We had a couple of tweaks that we had to do and just try to reset and do our best to try to give the offence the ball back and that’s what we did,” said Betts.
B.C. entered the game with only four sacks allowed in its first five games. Anthony Lanier and Charleston Hughes picked up sacks for the Riders in the early going, but the Lions offensive line regained its composure and provided Rourke with outstanding protection for the rest of the game.
“They did a great job. They didn’t blink early in the game. It was a rough start and they’d be the first ones to tell you that. But they certainly got together,” said Rourke.
“That’s a very talented defensive line in Saskatchewan . . . We knew our offensive line was going to have their hands full and they did a really good job handling that and getting better as the game went on. That was a big key to us turning things around.”
The Lions, who are chasing the undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers for first place in the West Division, haven’t started a season at 5-1 since 2007 when they topped the division with a 14-3-1 record.
Friday’s game was the first of three scheduled meetings between the teams in a five-week stretch. Rourke wasn’t ready to admit that Friday’s victory gives the Lions a leg up on the Riders heading into the two upcoming games.
“I think every game that we play, whether it’s East or West, are important (but) the West games are especially important,” said Rourke. “It’s not easy to beat a team once, never mind three times during a season.”
Rourke continued to live up to the hype Friday by completing 27 of 33 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 1,941 yards on 153-of-193 passing with 16 touchdowns.
The Lions have a talented group of receivers which will only get better next week with the expected return of veteran Bryan Burnham who has been sidelined since June 25 with fractured ribs and a punctured lung.
The Riders are heading into a bye week after working through a couple of rough weeks. They were hit with a COVID-19 outbreak following their July 16 game in Halifax against Toronto that left them undermanned for last week’s return game against the Argos. They also had to deal with high profile suspensions of defensive tackle Garrett Marino (four games) and receiver Duke Williams (one game).
Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who missed last week’s game because of COVID protocols, suffered damage to his medial collateral ligament (MCL) in Week 2 and has been wearing a large brace in every game since.
Despite those issues, the Lions weren’t about to underestimate Fajardo.
“Fajardo is a good quarterback in this league. He’s obviously a great athlete, so that’s how I’m treating him . . . If he’s out there, he must be ready to roll and be the guy to give them the best chance to win the game so that’s how we treated him,” said Betts.
The Lions got touchdowns from Rourke on a one-yard run along with a 15-yard reception from Jevon Cottoy and a 14-yard catch by Dominique Rhymes. Kicker Sean Whyte had field goals of 16 and 39 yards and added a single on a miss from 46 yards. Stefan Flintoft had two singles on kickoffs. The Lions also got a safety when Marcus Sayles tackled Riders running back Jamal Morrow in the end zone in the second quarter.
Betts had two sacks with Obum Gwacham and Tibo Debaille collecting one sack each. Former Rider Loucheiz Purifoy had an interception for the Lions.
Fajardo, on a one-yard run, and Tevin Jones, on an eight-yard reception, scored touchdowns for Saskatchewan. Brett Lauther added a 28-yard field goal.
Famous Blackjack Players: Their Stories and Winning Strategies
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Emotional Bianca Andreescu leaves court in wheelchair after injury at Miami Open
Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu was forced to leave the court in a wheelchair after suffering an injury during Monday’s match against Ekaterina Alexandrova in the Round of 16 at the Miami Open.
Andreescu officially retired at 6-7, 2-0, winning 75 percent of her points on first serve. With tears in her eyes, she left the court to a standing ovation. Alexandrova, who will face Petra Kvitova in the next round, came over to console a devastated Andreescu as her team prepared for her exit.
“I’ve never felt this kind of pain before,” Andreescu said in agony while the medical team approached.
The 22-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., suffered the injury during the third game of the second set while tracking down a shot.
Andreescu was off to an excellent start to the tournament, defeating Emma Raducanu 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the Round of 128, before proceeding to knock off No. 7 Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, then defeating Sofia Kenin in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
This is a potentially devastating injury for Andreescu, who was rounding into form with the summer schedule on the horizon. Andreescu had previously advanced to the Round of 32 in the Indian Wells Masters before losing in straight sets to No. 1 Iga Swiatek in a tightly contested match.
Andreescu has a lengthy history with long-term injuries, suffering a torn meniscus in October 2019, shortly after winning the U.S. Open against childhood hero Serena Williams. Andreescu did not play the entire 2020 season in large part due to the complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, then struggled through the 2021 season. Andreescu missed the opening three months of the 2022 season and struggled with a back injury towards the end of the year.
Andreescu said in a recent interview that she actually contemplated retiring from tennis in 2021.
“That was, honestly, about me wanting to figure out if I really wanted to continue playing tennis,” Andreescu told reporters on Sunday, per The Telegraph. “I was literally about to drop my rackets and say, ‘Screw this.’ I wasn’t happy at all and I wasn’t happy basically for the full year of 2021. I thought, if I continue like this, it’s just going to get worse.”
Those hardships from the past few years have helped Andreescu grow as both a player and a person.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot,” Andreescu told Sportsnet’s Vivek Jacob earlier this month. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot even in the past two months about myself, which is such a great thing about life, you’re constantly growing, you’re constantly learning. The main thing is I want to be able to feel good in my own skin whether I win a match or lose a match.”
Player grades: Edmonton Oilers survive scrambly affair in Arizona, pull out 5-4 win
The Oilers had seemed fully in control with a 4-2 lead after a dominant second period, but that went away in the first 5 minutes of the third. The Oilers managed just a single Grade A shot in that final frame, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins buried that shot on the powerplay to put them back in front by the enventual winning margin.
If the stats are to be believed, this was a stolen win by the Oilers, who were outshot 33-29 and on the short end of Grade A shots by a 19-13 margin, including 10-6 in 5-alarm shots (running count). In each player’s comment we’ll record his individual contributions to Grade A shots (GAS) at both ends of the sheet.
#2 Evan Bouchard, 7. Strong on the attack. Scored the 2-2 goal at even strength on an excellent shot, later set up the game winner on the powerplay with a one-timer that created a dangerous rebound. Perhaps his best play was a lovely delayed stretch pass that sent his partner Ekholm in on a breakaway. Not your standard D-to-D pass. Did have a couple of adventures on defence, wandering way out of position and getting burned for a breakaway that Campbell stopped, later losing a battle in the low slot that resulted in the 4-4. Now has 12 points in 13 games since the big trade on Feb 28. GAS: +3/-4.
#10 Derek Ryan, 5. Quiet night with 0 shots and just 1/6=17% on the dot. Decent on the penalty kill. GAS: +0/-1.
#14 Mattias Ekholm, 7. Played a team-high 24:56 on what was the club’s most effective pairing. Unlucky that the second Arizona goal caromed in off him. Burned on another ‘yotes chance when his hard clearing pass hit a sign on the boards and just died, one of many funky bounces in the old barn Arizona now calls home. Won more than his share of battles, including a couple that set up McDavid’s 2 best chances of the game, both in the first period. Robbed on a breakaway of his own on a full stretch stop by Karel Vejmelka. Also robbed of an assist on Draisaitl’s goal when his pass was deflected from its intended recipient directly to the goal scorer, without possession ever being achieved. Played 24:58 to lead both teams, including 23:01 at even strength. Excellent shot shares. GAS: +4/-4.
#19 Devin Shore, 4. Scoreless in almost 10 minutes, not a bad outcome. Not his best night handling the puck, though. GAS: +0/-0
#21 Klim Kostin, 6. A decent shot on net, a couple of shot blocks, a couple of hits, and a positive influence overall. GAS: +1/-0.
#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. His big moment was scoring the shorthanded goal that gave the Oilers their first lead, joining the rush as a trailer, taking Yamamoto’s drop pass, and overpowering Vejmelka with a wrist shot. Made a great pass to Hyman for another 5-alarm shot. Allowed an outside shot on the sequence that resulted in Arizona’s third goal, and was a better door than window in screening Campbell on a couple of other shots (both stopped). 4 shots, 2 blocks. GAS: +2/-4.
#27 Brett Kulak, 5. His pairing with Desharnais had its struggles at even strength and were badly outshot (+3/-10 in Kulak’s 14 minutes at 5v5), and were dominated in Grade A shots. Managed to saw off 0-0 where it mattered most. Kulak mustered a couple of shots, a hit and a takeaway. GAS: +0/-4.
#29 Leon Draisaitl, 7. Entered the game tied with McDavid and Kane, each with 299 goals. Won the race to 300 when he scored on his only official shot of the game, surprising Vejmelka with a quick-release outside shot through traffic. This after finding iron on a great look from the slot on his previous shift. Set up the game winner by teeing up Bouchard’s one-timer in the third. Also won the powerplay faceoff that led directly to Oilers’ first goal, whough no point awarded on that one. Now up to 46-68-114 on the season, 26 points behind McDavid but 12 clear of third-place Nikita Kucherov. Led the Oilers with 2 blocked shots and with 13/23=57% on the faceoff dot. GAS: +5/-6.
#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 5. Quiet game with 0 shots and 0 hits. Whiffed entirely on his best look, wasting a nice set up by Ekholm. Did find a way to contribute with a nice rush and pass to Nurse on the penalty kill that resulted in the 3-2 goal. GAS: +2/-0.
#72 Nick Bjugstad, 7. Became one of the first NHLers to experience Mullett Arena as both a home and away player. Certainly looked right at home with a very strong effort. Skated extremely well. Earned a secondary assist on the Bouchard goal. Fired 3 shots of his own (6 attempts) and also landed 3 hits, with a takeaway and a block and 5/10=50% on the dot. GAS: +2/-2.
#91 Evander Kane, 4. Skated better, producing 5 shot attempts (2 on net). Involved in the physical aspect, landing a team-high 4 hits. But all too frequently, the play died on his stick. Directly caused a too-many-men penalty when he chose to play the puck right at the player’s gate, even as his replacement had already taken the ice. Screened his own goalie and very likely deflected in the second Arizona goal. No points and -2 on the night. Now a dismal dash-9 on the season, the only current Oiler in red figures. GAS: +2/-3.
#97 Connor McDavid, 5. A couple of early chances, and a great pass to Hyman on the PP for the 1-1, his 140th (!!!) point of the season. Gradually had less impact as the game went on. Beaten on the 4-3 when he wasn’t quite able to cut out the shot. Did land a couple of heavy hits and held his own on the dot at 7/13=54%. GAS: +3/-2.
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