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Lions pick up wild 45-42 victory over Blue Bombers


VANCOUVER — Ty Long was talking to his dad earlier this week about how quickly momentum can swing in the CFL.

The rookie kicker has another story to tell the next time they speak.

Long booted a 34-yard field goal with 52 seconds left on the clock as the B.C. Lions scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pick up a wild 45-42 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night.

"It is unreal how fast things change," Long said inside a raucous Lions locker-room. "American football, it's not like that.

"Man, CFL football's fun. I'm enjoying it."

The winning kick was set up after Ronnie Yell intercepted Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols and returned the ball to Winnipeg's 35 with 1:21 remaining.

After two running plays, Long — who the Lions kept in favour of veteran Swayze Waters — split the uprights with his third field goal of the night.

"I had a lot of confidence in Ty when I saw him in training camp," said Lions head coach and general manager Wally Buono. "The thing I've always been impressed with is he's usually his best when the pressure is on."

Long missed a late kick in B.C.'s Week 1 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos, and also was wide on a kick from 43 yards out on the Lions' first drive Friday.

"I just wanted to respond," said Long, who grew up in Roswell, Ga. "I felt like a lot of the fans lost hope in me early on. I'm human. I make a mistake, but I'm going to respond."

Justin Medlock, who came up well short on a 61-yard field-goal attempt that would have won last November's West Division semifinal on the same field, didn't have enough leg from 50 yards with one second left.

Travis Lulay passed for 404 yards and two TDs to Emmanuel Arceneaux to go along with two interceptions for B.C. (4-1). Jeremiah Johnson and Chris Rainey also scored touchdowns for the Lions.

"I'm spent right now. We left it all out there," said Lulay, who was 28-of-43 starting in place of the injured Jonathon Jennings. "Just a classic CFL game between two big opponents."

The Lions were coming off a long road trip that saw them beat the Toronto Argonauts, Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats — a clean three-game sweep of East Division opponents that marked a first in the franchise's 64-year history.

Lulay completed 29-of-36 attempts for a career-best 436 yards to go along with three touchdown tosses and two interceptions last week, with the yardage total also setting a CFL record for a relief performance.

Friday marked the 33-year-old's his first meaningful start in a regular-season game since September 2015.

"I don't know how things are going to play out," said Lulay. "I've tried to do everything I could over the last few years to prepare myself as though I was the guy.

"It really didn't feel foreign this week when I was taking the reps. It was the exact same process that I've always had."

Nichols was 28-of-36 for 241 yards and three TDs, and scored another on the ground for Winnipeg (2-2), but also had that costly pick late.

Darvin Adams, with two, Clarence Denmark, backup quarterback Dan LeFevour and linebacker Kyle Knox scored touchdowns for the Bombers.

"They hit a play, we hit a play, they hit a play," said Winnipeg defensive end Jamaal Westerman. "They were able to hit one more play than we did."

With the Lions looking stunned after the Bombers scored 28 straight points to go up 42-27 after three quarters, Arceneaux scored his second touchdown of the night from 10 yards out on a pass from Lulay to get B.C. within eight with under 10 minutes to go. The play also moved Arcenaux into third all-time in receiving yards in franchise history.

The Bombers tried a head-scratching fake punt on their next possession — their second trick play on special teams of the night — that failed to connect when Medlock's pass was knocked down, setting the Lions up deep in Winnipeg territory. Lulay ran the ball in from 14 yards two plays later before connecting with Arceneaux on a two-point conversion to make it 42-42 with seven minutes to go.

"These CFL games are just a battle," said Lulay. "You're going to get extra possessions. You can't lose your cool. You've got to hang in until the end.

"Ultimately, we made just enough plays to win."

It didn't look like that heading to the fourth quarter.

Down 27-21 at the half, Winnipeg went up by one on the opening drive on the third quarter when Nichols scored from 20 yards out.

The Bombers added a touchdown on a fourth straight possession after getting the ball back, with Adams grabbing a six-yard pass from Nichols with one hand to make it 35-27.

Winnipeg scored again on B.C.'s next drive when defensive lineman Jake Thomas deflected Lulay's pass before coming down with the interception. He lateralled to Knox, who tiptoed down the sidelines from 34 yards out to make it 42-27 through three quarters before the Lions responded late.

"That's CFL football," said B.C. linebacker Solomon Elimimian. "Expect the unexpected."


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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