‘He’s an outstanding player’: Canadian QB Nathan Rourke impresses Riders while leading B.C. Lions comeback win

Photo courtesy: CFL

Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke led his B.C. Lions on a 28-0 run to comeback and beat the Roughriders 32-17 at Mosaic Stadium in Week 8.

Rourke improved to 6-2 as a starter in impressive fashion while guiding B.C. to their best start to a CFL season since being 5-1 in 2007.

“It’s a very difficult place to play, to win. This is a very loud stadium, they love their football, they love their Roughriders. That’s why it feels extra sweet,” Rourke said.

“We’re very confident that when we execute to the best of our abilities, we don’t feel like there is anybody who can get in our way except ourselves.”

The 24-year-old Rourke stayed focused despite trailing 17-4 midway through the second quarter in Regina with 27,000-plus fans making it loud for his offence to operate. He tuned out the noise and went to work, completing 27-of-33 passes (81.8 percent) for 336 yards with two touchdowns without being intercepted.

“Super accurate, I don’t know what his final numbers were but they were good,” Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“I think he’s poised. He’s an outstanding player. He doesn’t get rattled, I thought two or three times we had him and he found ways to buy time and throw the ball downfield.”

The six-foot-two, 209-pound passer connected on three balls that went for over 20 yards, including a 40-yard seam shot to Keon Hatcher that jump-started B.C.’s offence and led to the Lions’ first touchdown of the game. That TD drive came on the Leos last possession before halftime and on the first series Rourke touched the ball in the second half, Dominique Rhymes made a one-handed grab for the go-ahead major.

“I thought he made some great plays against a really good defence, our defence is great. I thought he got into a rhythm in the second and third quarters, especially the second half,” Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo said.

“He made some plays with his feet, that’s what he does. I knew he had skills and it’s always good to have good quarterbacks in any league because it makes your league a lot better. I’m happy he’s in the CFL because it makes our league much better.”

Indeed, Rourke is setting the pace for all starting quarterbacks in the three-down league. He leads all CFL starters with 323.5 passing yards per game, 79.3 completion percentage, 16 passing touchdowns and a 124.7 quarterback rating. Rourke has stayed off social media to ignore the hype and pressure being placed on his shoulders as a fast-rising face of the league.

“I’m not getting too up in the clouds or too down on myself because of what someone else says, whose opinion frankly is irrelevant,” Rourke said. “I care about the guys in the locker room, I care about the guys in the building, what their opinion is, and that’s all that really matters — not listening to the outside noise.”