Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com

On a night where the roof on BC Place was closed, the Toronto Argonauts still got swamped by the Vancouver elements sputtering their way to a 55-8 loss against the B.C Lions.

It started like any Vancouver rainstorm, a slow and methodical drizzle before the downpour began.

B.C. drove the field for 10 plays, 60 yards and over six minutes on their opening drive and settled for a 21-yard Sergio Castillo field goal. The Argos’ defence was a little damp to start the game, but the skies would open up on the very next play.

James Franklin’s first throw of the football game was batted in the air by Jonathan Newsome and intercepted by T.J. Lee deep in Toronto territory. The Lions capitalized quickly with a 14-yard touchdown throw to Bryan Burnham, before sending the ball back to Toronto.

Newsome stripped James Wilder Jr. on the first play of the new series. Less than 40 seconds later, Burnham was in the endzone again. This time it was a spectacular one-handed grab in the corner of the endzone, tapping a single toe in bounds with a defender draped on his back for a catch that will be replayed on SportsCentre for decades.

10 minutes into the do-or-die matchup, Toronto was down 17-0 and had run just two plays from scrimmage, both resulting in turnovers. It would not get better as the night went on.
B.C. would put together two 11-play drives in the second quarter. One resulted in 61 yards and a short Castillo field goal, the other generated 81 yards and a Danny O’Brien one-yard touchdown sneak.

Having only 47 yards of offence to that point, the Argonauts gambled on a reverse pitch on the ensuing kickoff return with two minutes remaining in the half. Lee batted the lateral out of the air and Jamel Lyles recovered it on the one-yard line, allowing O’Brien to score his second straight sneak touchdown and putting the Lions up 34-0 at the half.

The downpour would become torrential in the second half.

After a 10-play, 73-yard drive, Shaq Johnson decided to get himself on the highlight reel with a diving 21-yard touchdown catch. Not to be out done, Bryan Burnham responded with a 31-yard juggling act on the next drive to complete his hat-trick of touchdowns.

The Lions’ 48-0 lead at the end of the third quarter was the largest in team history and it was about to get worse.

Another 10-play drive marched 85 yards down the field so Reilly could find Duron Carter for 25 yards and the score, ending his night after three and a half quarters with 276 yards passing and five touchdowns. John White was ushered out of the game as well after contributing 121 yards on 20 carries.

The O’Brien and Lyles-led offence was a positive for at least one person in attendance, as it gave punter Josh Bartel his only two opportunities to see the field, both late in the fourth frame.

Toronto’s McLeod Bethel-Thompson led a late drive to break the Lions’ shutout with six seconds remaining on a pass to Armanti Edwards, but it did little to soften the end result.

The Lions were unceasing, unrelenting and washed the Argonauts entirely out of BC Place, out of the playoff race.

The Argos put up a meager 167 yards of offence to the Lions’ 455, with 83 yards coming on the final drive. Starting quarterback James Franklin was pulled with just 32 yards passing and an interception, star running back James Wilder Jr had only four touches and Derel Walker caught only two passes, while the Lions controlled the football for almost 45 minutes.

In a dominant downpour performance by all three phases, it was Burnham who was the “Rain Man”, filling up a highlight reel all on his own. The dominant receiver caught eight passes for 145 yards and a trio of touchdowns on his way to reclaiming the league receiving lead from Brandon Banks. It was a season-best performance that at times beggared belief.

With the win, the Lions stay alive in the playoff race and head into a matchup with crossover-seeded Edmonton with the hot hand. Like many West Coast visitors before them, the Argonauts head home to wring out their uniforms, hoping a contest against the Redblacks will help dry out an already drowned season.

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JC Abbott
Abbott is a UBC student, youth coach and lifelong CFL fanatic. Born in Edmonton but raised in Vancouver, he considers the Ricky Ray trade to be the darkest day of his life.