Lions using late-game letdown as learning experience

The Lions schedule didn’t do them any favours, but B.C. can only blame themselves for the 0-3 record to start the season.

Leos head coach DeVone Claybrooks had his former team and the defending Grey Cup champions on the ropes. B.C. had an 11-point lead and Calgary’s franchise quarterback left the game at the three-minute warning. All indications were the Lions had their first win. But that changed quickly.

“I never think that until there is zero’s on the clock. I’ve been a part of too may last second, late-in-the-game, come-from-behind wins, been a part of a couple of losses. They never feel good, but the game’s never over. It literally is never over in this league, especially if it’s within two scores,” Lions pivot Mike Reilly said.

Backup Stampeders quarterback Nick Arbuckle entered the game, promptly leading a nine-play touchdown drive, which he finished with a quarterback sneak. Calgary lined up for an onside attempt, Canadian receiver Michael Klukas knocked the Rene Paredes kick free and Eric Rogers recovered. Five plays later Arbuckle connected with Rogers for the game-winning touchdown.

“It’s a learning experience. This is a situation that we haven’t found ourselves in with the lead that late in the game and we didn’t handle it well. If we take it the right way and learn from it, we’ll be better off the next time that we’re in that situation. We’ll handle it better and we’ll figure out a way to close it out,” Reilly said.

“Had the lead in the first quarter, had the lead in the second quarter of a game, we’ve had the lead in the third and now we’ve had the lead in the fourth with three minutes left. We’ve stressed the fact that the game is 57 plus three,” Claybrooks said.

B.C. busted under the pressure and ruined Reilly’s best performance so far. He completed 36-of-42 passes for 354 yards with two touchdowns plus nine carries for 21 yards and one major on the ground.

The Lions offensive line was much improved protecting Reilly. After allowing seven sacks in Edmonton during their Week 2 loss, Reilly was only taken down twice at McMahon Stadium. Reilly had one final chance with the football and Cory Greenwood tracked him down, stripping the football as the Stampeders recovered to clinch the comeback.

That pushed the Lions losing streak to three – last in the West Division.

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