Travis Lulay is making an impact off the bench for the B.C. Lions.
Lulay rushed for two touchdowns in a back-up role on Thursday as the Lions defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 29-23.
The 32-year-old pivot came in on goal-line situations for the Lions, replacing starting quarterback Jonathon Jennings, and scored twice from one-yard out, including the winning score at 12:26 of the fourth quarter.
He then completed a pass for the two-point conversion and the 29-23 lead.
“It’s been a few years (since coming off the bench) and I just rely on my experience, I wasn’t going to make more of it than it is,” said Lulay.
“I had one singular job and that was to gain one-and-a-half yards and the guys up front helped me get that done.”
Chris Milo had kicked a 47-yard field goal at 11:14 to give the Redblacks (4-4-1) a 23-21 lead, but they were unable to score on their final possession after turning the ball over on downs.
“At the end of the day the defence found a way to not let them score a touchdown at the end,” Lions coach Wally Buono said.
“We won, we controlled them most of the game and I thought we played well enough to win.”
Jennings threw for 289 yards and a touchdown for the Lions (6-3), who were able to rebound from a tough home loss to the Calgary Stampeders last week.
Trevor Harris was making his first start since injuring his leg and ankle in a game against Saskatchewan July 22 and threw for 352 yards and a touchdown.
The Redblacks, who have lost four of their last five games, responded to every scoring play by the Lions with one of their own in the first half and went into the break ahead 13-10.
Despite another loss, Redblacks coach Rick Campbell was for the most part upbeat post game.
“We competed hard, we have a lot of guys doing the right things and playing hard, we just have to limit the negatives, and that’s whether we’re going backwards on offence or helping them stay on the field with penalties,” Campbell said.
“Our guys had the right attitude this week but the difference between good teams and bad teams is staying away from the negative things and negative football.”
The Redblacks were called for seven penalties and 65 yards. Three of those penalties extended drives for the Lions.
The Lions struck first with a 23-yard field goal at 9:08 off the foot of Rickie Leone on B.C.’s first drive of the game.
Ottawa levelled the game at 11:21 when Milo kicked a 21-yard field goal, and the teams were tied 3-3 after the opening quarter.
A questionable late hit call on Dan West of the Redblacks on a punt return gave the Lions the ball on the Ottawa eight-yard line. Two plays later, after coming in under centre for short-yardage situations, Lulay kept the ball and stumbled in for a one-yard touchdown at 9:51.
His pass on the two-point conversion attempt was incomplete though, keeping the Lions lead at 9-3.
One their next possession Ottawa’s Ernest Jackson hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Harris at 12:15 that Milo converted for a 10-9 lead.
A favourable bounce led to an 82-yard single from Leone that tied the game 10-10 with just over a minute to play in the half, but the Redblacks and Milo responded with a 44-yard field goal on the final play of the half for the 13-10 lead.
The Lions scored the first nine points of the third quarter with a 45-yard single by Leone at 4:24 off a missed field goal and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jennings to Chris Rainey at 7:19, that was followed up by a two-point conversion giving the Lions a 19-13 lead.
After generating little offence in the quarter, Travon Van scored on a three-yard run at 12:53 that gave the Redblacks a 20-19 lead after the conversion by Milo.
Two catches totaling 68 yards by Greg Ellingson were the key plays in the drive.
Early in the fourth quarter, after forcing and recovering a fumble on their own two-yard line, the Redblacks promptly handed the Lions a 21-20 lead four minutes in after Harris couldn’t handle a high snap and was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
“Football is a game of ebb and flows with bad snaps and fumbles and you’ve got to be able to weather the storm,” Buono said. “Last week (against Calgary) we couldn’t make a play to get momentum and tonight when we lost momentum we made a play and got it.
“It’s football in the weirdest way and that’s why people come. The ball’s not round. It’s pointed and you never know how it’s going to bounce.”
The Lions next play the Argonauts in Toronto while the Redblacks will play their first road game in five weeks when the face the Alouettes in Montreal.