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Harris runs wild, BC holds off Hamilton

Jul 7, 2012 - 5:53 AM Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - Andrew Harris rushed for a career-high 147 yards as the BC Lions were able to hold off the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 39-36 at BC Place.

Harris rushed the ball 13 times and added a major for the defending Grey Cup champion Lions (2-0). Quarterback Travis Lulay - the 2011 Most Outstanding Player - was efficient in the victory, completing 17-of-31 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Tim Brown was a huge factor on special teams for BC, accounting for 265 return yards, including an 81-yard touchdown scamper.

For Hamilton (0-2), Henry Burris went 26-of-39 passing for 359 yards and four majors, though he also threw an interception, was sacked four times, and fumbled twice. Chevon Walker rushed for 37 yards and added five catches and 117 yards receiving with a pair of scores.

After empty possessions by each team to open the game, the Tiger-Cats struck first when Burris dumped a screen pass off to Walker, who took it 95 yards for a touchdown to give Hamilton a 7-0 lead.

The Lions responded on the following series with a nine-play, 76-yard drive, which concluded with a six-yard touchdown pass from Lulay to Shawn Gore to even the score up at 7-7 with 3:51 left in the first quarter.

Hamilton possessed the ball to start the second quarter and took advantage with a nine-yard touchdown catch by Daryl Stephenson to retake the lead, 14-7.

When the Tiger-Cats found themselves deep in their own territory a few possessions later, they decided to concede a safety rather than punt the ball back to the Lions with great field position, which brought BC back to within five, 14-9, with less than seven minutes remaining in the half.

BC ended up getting great field possession on their ensuing drive anyway following a 45-yard kickoff return from Brown to the Hamilton 35-yard line, but it was all for naught as the Lions failed to cut into the lead when the usually-reliable Paul McCallum hit the right upright on a 42-yard field goal attempt.

Another outstanding return from Tim Brown (50 yards) put the Lions inside Hamilton's 30-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the half. On the very next play, Lulay connected on a 26-yard major strike to Gore to put BC up for the first time, 16-14.

Hamilton got the ball back with plenty of time left in the half to try and retake the lead, but Burris's first pass on the drive was intercepted by Anthony Reddick, who returned it 45 yards to the Hamilton one-yard line. A touchdown plunge by Harris gave the Lions their second major in 20 seconds of game time, and they took a 23-14 lead into halftime.

Gore left the game late in the first half for precautionary reasons following a lower-body injury, though it doesn't appear to be serious and he expects to be back next week.

Burris was benched for the last couple of series of the first half, though he returned to action for the start of the third quarter.

BC forced the Tiger-Cats to punt on their opening drive of the second half, and the Lions capitalized on their first possession of the new frame with an impressive 46-yard drive, culminating in a McCallum 32-yard field goal to extend their lead to 26-14.

Following a two-and-out from Hamilton, Brown's amazing night on special teams continued when he returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown to cushion BC's lead, 33-14.

Not to be outdone on special teams however was Chris Williams, who brought the Tiger-Cats right back into the game with a 67-yard punt return of his own to bring them to within two possessions, 33-21, with 4:17 left in the third quarter.

McCallum added a 32-yard field goal to extend the Lions' lead to 36-21 with just over 12 minutes to play in the game.

Hamilton responded with a much-needed 11-play, 75-yard drive, ending with a 2- yard touchdown reception from Walker to bring its deficit to just eight, 36-28, with 7:21 remaining.

A 61-yard run from Harris on the ensuing drive helped set up another McCallum field goal for BC, which once again brought its lead to two scores, 39-28.

The pesky Tiger-Cats refused to go away however, as they clawed back to once again make it a one-possession game, 39-36, with 2:28 to go following a Williams receiving touchdown and a successful two-point conversion.

Hamilton would not get a chance to tie or take the lead though, as Harris and the Lions were able to convert three first downs on the following drive to run out the clock and hold on for the win.

Game Notes

Gore's two touchdown catches doubled his output from all of last season...Gore led the Lions in catches with five despite not playing the entire second half, while Arland Bruce paced the squad with 56 receiving yards...The punt return for a touchdown was Brown's second of his career, also running a 97-yarder to the house against Montreal on June 30, 2011...Hamilton's Dave Stala led all receivers with six catches, accumulating 96 yards in the process...Adam Bighill led all defenders with nine tackles while adding a sack and a forced fumble as well...BC now owns a 47-32-3 advantage in the all-time series over Hamilton and it avenged a 42-10 beat-down at the hands of the Tiger-Cats in the teams' last meeting in October 2011.