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B.C. Lions try to lock up home playoff with win over Saskatchewan

B.C. has won its last three games while the Roughriders have done the opposite
The last time the B.C. Lions took on the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they were denied a comeback win. B.C. Lions’ Dominique Rhymes (19) fails to make the reception as he’s hit by Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Deontai Williams (24) during the first half of a CFL football game, in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, July 22, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The last time the B.C. Lions took on the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they were denied a comeback win.

The Riders took a 31-13 lead into the fourth quarter back on Aug. 20.

The Lions scored 16 straight points to close the gap to 31-29 with 2:06 left in the game but ultimately fell short.

This time, B.C. is looking to dispatch their Western division counterparts without the need for last minute heroics.

“They’re a good football team,” said head coach Rick Campbell. “I know they’ve had their ups and downs … but they’re well coached.”

The Lions have a chance to clinch a home playoff spot with a win Friday night, having locked up a spot in the post-season last week.

Campbell said he’s trying to not get carried away about that possibility.

“Play good football and then see what happens,” he said when asked if he had been thinking about playoff games at B.C. Place. “You don’t have the control of the outcome, you have the control of the odds.”

The Lions have won their last three games while the Roughriders have done the opposite, particularly struggling away from Mosaic Stadium.

“The schedule makers got it right, we’re playing four of our last five against the west,” said Campbell. “The competition level is high.”

The Lions have struggled for consistency with their run game, but have shown sparks of success in the last two weeks.

First it was Terry Williams going all the way to kick-start a last minute comeback win over the Ottawa Redblacks, followed by Taquan Mizzell putting up 112 yards and two touchdowns against the Edmonton Elks last week.

“We talked last week about how we needed to get more out of that running back position, whether that’s through pass protection or running the ball to getting the ball out of his hands in the back,” said Campbell. “We told (Mizzell) ‘We need more out of you,’ but we need to help with blocking, play calls and all that stuff.”

Wide receiver Dominique Rhymes and linebacker Bo Lokombo are both expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s tilt, barring any last minute setback.

“I’m happy to get back, happy to be healthy,” said Lokombo. “At this time (of the season) you want everybody to play and contribute.”

The linebacker said he and his teammates need to shut out external pressure and focus on the game at hand.

“Around this time, every game is a big game,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re dealing with things or somethings going on, we have to come ready to play.”

But the Lions will be without offensive lineman Sukh Chung and linebacker David Mackie, forcing some positional changes ahead of the game.

“They do a good job up front. They have a good defence and people up front,” said Campbell. “We’ve got to mix things up, and move in the pocket. Run the ball, run screens, just make sure we don’t have a quarterback sitting in one spot.”

Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said his team is aiming to limit quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.’s offensive output.

“He’s a guy that has my utmost respect. I’ve known him since he was a college player,” said Dickinson. “I think with Vernon, you’ve got to try to contain him. He can beat you with his legs or his arm.”

Adams said he’s focusing on his and his offensive line’s play heading into the game.

“That defensive line, they’re really good. I think both times we played them, they got to me a couple times,” he said. I think our offensive line has honed into a lot of things and doing a really good job of talking and communicating up front.”

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