VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions held off a late push by the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday night to claw out a crucial 26-23 victory.
The Lions (7-7) drew first blood and never gave up the lead, but they were tested late in the game when the Argos (3-11) put up a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings threw for 199 yards and one touchdown.
Toronto’s McLeod Bethel-Thompson put up 97 passing yards and a touchdown, but he threw four interceptions before he was replaced by James Franklin in the fourth quarter.
D-linemen can get picks too 🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/hDFDNWFEOP
— BC Lions (@BCLions) October 7, 2018
The backup threw for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
The Lions opened the scoring midway through the first, with Jennings tossing a 14-yard bullet to Cory Watson. The slotback spun and gently placed the football in the end zone for a touchdown.
Ty Long’s conversion attempt went wide, but the kicker made up for the play with four successful field goals in the first half alone. His longest was for 51 yards.
He also put a 51-yard punt out of bounds, adding another two points to B.C.’s total.
Long added two more field goals — including a 33-yard kick — in the fourth quarter, and had a tackle late in the game.
Toronto kicker Zack Medeiros put his team on the board in the second with a 27-yard field goal.
One of the Argos’ biggest plays of the night came from running back Brandon Burks, who made a massive 68-yard bolt down the sideline before B.C.’s Anthony Orange hauled him to the ground.
Burks didn’t make it into the end zone, but he put his team in scoring position. A minute later, Bethel-Thompson tossed a five-yard pass to slotback Llevi Noel for Toronto’s first touchdown of the night.
Lions returner Chris Rainey had a chance to add to his team’s lead in the third, putting up a big 52-yard run on a punt. He made it to the end zone, but there was a flag on the play.
B.C. was called for an illegal block and the third quarter remained scoreless.
Toronto kept things interesting down the stretch, with Franklin making a 20-yard pass to Duron Carter in the end zone with less than three minutes to go. The play marked Carter’s first touchdown for Toronto.
The Argos tried for a two-point conversion, but Lions defensive lineman Shawn Lemon foiled the plan with a tackle.
In the game’s final minute, Franklin found wide receiver Myles White and connected with a five-yard pass for another touchdown.
This time, Toronto went for the single-point conversion. Medeiros made the 32-yard kick, but the Lions held on for their three-point lead.
It was a much-needed victory for the the Lions, who are chasing the Edmonton Eskimos (7-7) and Winnipeg Blue Bombers (8-7) for a playoff berth.
The Argos are now headed home for a game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday.
The Lions will be back in action next Saturday, when they visit the Calgary Stampeders, the only team to have clinched a post-season spot so far.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press