Chris Rainey says he’s always had to prove himself.
The running back did just that Saturday afternoon when he caught a pair of touchdown passes and rushed 16 times for 106 yards as the B.C. Lions ended a five-game losing streak with a 36-27 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Florida native, five-foot-eight, 180 pounds, got the start instead of Jeremiah Johnson, who was on the bench resting. The Lions (7-10) were already eliminated from the playoff contention.
“I’ve been dying to be a starter forever, but just like I said, I’m too small for everything so I’ve always got to prove everybody wrong,” said Rainey, who’s in his third season with the Lions after beginning his CFL career with Montreal in 2014.
“So I got my opportunity, so I took full advantage of it. That’s all I can do.”
Rainey, who usually returns punts and kickoffs, finished with six receptions for 89 yards. His TD catches were five yards and 40.
Rainey being a dual threat was one of the reasons the Bombers (11-6) failed to get a win that would have clinched second place in the CFL West Division and a home playoff date at Investors Group Field. They can still get that if the Eskimos (10-6) lose against the Calgary Stampeders (13-2-1) in Edmonton later Saturday.
The Bombers were hit with two key injuries, one early in the game and one late.
Starting quarterback Matt Nichols left the game limping midway through the first quarter. He threw a pass, fell to the turf without being touched and grabbed the lower part of his left leg. He was replaced by Dominique Davis and then Dan LeFevour.
Winnipeg running back Andrew Harris was involved in a collision with Lions linebacker Dyshawn Davis with under five minutes to go in the game.
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said he didn’t think Nichols’ lower-body injury was ‘too serious” and Harris “should be fine.” Winnipeg ends the regular season in Calgary Nov. 3.
“The good news is that opportunity’s still out there,” Bombers receiver Weston Dressler said of the home playoff game.
O’Shea said effort wasn’t the problem against the Lions.
“The execution, once again, wasn’t at the level we needed,” he said. “There was busts on defence, drops on offence, missed blocks.”
Winnipeg had 229 yards net offence and didn’t score a touchdown. Nichols threw for 30 yards, Davis was 7-of-12 for 82 yards and LeFevour was 5-of-12 for 42 yards and a pair of interceptions.
Justin Medlock was good on all seven of his field-goal attempts for Winnipeg. In last week’s 29-28 loss to Toronto, he was 2-of-4 and missed the potential winner as time ran out.
Bombers defensive back Derek Jones blocked a Ty Long punt and linebacker Mike Miller scooped up the ball and ran 18 yards for the touchdown. The two-point convert pass by Davis was incomplete.
B.C.’s offence put up 489 yards in front of an announced crowd of 25,034 fans that sent some boos down to the home team.
Jonathon Jennings threw for a season-high 408 yards and four touchdowns, completing 30-of-40 pass attempts and being intercepted once. His other TDs were to Nick Moore and Bryan Burnham.
“This means so much,” Jennings said. “We’ve been struggling to get a win, struggling to find a rhythm and all be on the same page. Just to come out here and execute and do our jobs and finally get the victory, it was huge for us.”
Long made field goals from 19 and 35 yards, three converts and went wide on another point after.
The Lions carried a 26-21 advantage into the fourth quarter, but B.C. receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux fumbled a catch and Bombers Brian Walker picked it up. With a B.C. penalty for a horse collar, Winnipeg took over at the Lions 14-yard line.
Incompletions by LeFevour led to a Medlock 17-yard field goal that squeezed the score 26-24.
A Winnipeg penalty for roughing the passer then aided a B.C. drive that ended with Rainey hauling in the 40-yard TD pass. Long’s convert made it 33-24 at 5:55.
LeFevour was then intercepted, but Jennings was also picked off right away. Winnipeg used the turnover for Medlock’s seventh field goal of the game – a 27-yarder at 11:30.
Rainey had a 56-yard run to help set up a 20-yard Long field goal at 12:46 for the final scoring.