VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions kept their faint playoff hopes alive on Saturday, posting a gritty 25-23 win over the Montreal Alouettes.
Mike Reilly had 309 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Lions (4-10).
He connected with Bryan Burnham and John White for TDs, and Sergio Castillo added four field goals, including a 48-yard kick.
Matt Shiltz filled in at quarterback for the Als (7-6), throwing for 177 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The 26-year-old Butler University grad also rushed for 62 yards and brought in a TD of his own.
Montreal’s usual starter, Vernon Adams Jr., was suspended after a helmet swinging incident against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week.
Anthony Pipkin and Eugene Lewis also found the endzone for the Alouettes.
"We'll take it. Kudos for my team for being resilient."
— BC LIONS (@BCLions) September 29, 2019
Solid defensive performances from both sides limited the scoring to a string of field goals in the first half.
Castillo made three successful field goals for the Lions in quarters one and two, including a pair of 41-yard kicks, and Als kicker Boris Bede made a 16-yard attempt.
Castillo added another 48-yard field goal for the Lions midway through the fourth quarter.
The offensive dam broke less than a minute into the third frame when Shiltz connected with a wide-open Lewis midfield.
The receiver collected the pass and ran, uncontested, 69 yards into the end zone.
B.C. sputtered after the major strike, taking unnecessary offensive penalties that hemmed the Lions in their own zone and miscommunicating on defence.
Midway through the third quarter, the Lions defence split directly in front of Shiltz, clearing the quarterback’s path for a 29-yard run.
The play put the Alouettes on the goal line and Pipkin capitalized with a one-yard QB sneak to widen Montreal’s lead.
B.C. responded before the end of the third when Reilly sent an 18-yard pass sailing to Burnham just inside the end zone, cutting the Als lead to 17-15.
With seconds to go in the quarter, Reilly then found Lemar Durant deep in Montreal’s end for a 61-yard pass that set up a big scoring drive.
The five-play, 87-yard drive ended with White rushing four yards for another touchdown. The running back celebrated by climbing into the stands and handing the ball off to a child wearing an orange Lions toque.
Shiltz kept the game tight, however, after he was left wide open deep in the Lions end with just over five minutes to go in the game.
The quarterback ran seven yards for the major strike, but the Als couldn’t capitalize on a two-point conversion attempt that would have evened the score.
The Lions held off Montreal’s late-game push after Als running back William Stanback put his team in scoring position.
B.C.’s strong presence along the goal line and an apparent fumbled snap on Montreal’s third down prevented the visitors from crossing over into the end zone.
The @MTLAlouettes decided to go for it…
— CFL (@CFL) September 29, 2019
The loss prevents Montreal from clinching a playoff spot this week.
NOTES: Field judge Brian Chrupalo was led off the field in the third quarter after he was flattened by a player. … Castillo leads the league in percentage of field goals made with 91.4. … Shiltz made just his second CFL start on Saturday. His last came on Nov. 3, 2017 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press