Shawn Gore does not have to worry about any teammates ribbing him for a little while.
Gore caught two touchdown passes as the B.C. Lions edged the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 39-36 before a crowd of 25,109 at B.C. Place Stadium on Friday night.
The defending Grey Cup-champion Lions overcame a slow start and survived a late Hamilton rally for their second straight win. The Tiger-Cats remain winless after two games.
"It felt good compared to last year to get the TDs in early and just keep building off of that," said Gore. "But there were still missed plays out there, but until we're perfect and we have no missed assignments, we can't be that happy."
Gore's two-touchdown night in the second game of the season was in sharp contrast to 2011. The 25-year-old Toronto native's lone touchdown — the only other one of his three-year career — came in the final regular-season contest against Montreal.
"It was great to see him get in the end zone," said B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 178 yards. "Now, there's no jinx on it.
"It took him to Week 18 last year to get into the end zone. It was one of those things where guys were kind of giving him a hard time as the year went on. So that's great to see. Gore's gotten a ton better. He was up here all off-season, so I've probably worked with Gore more than anyone, and it's good to see that pay off a little bit when it counts."
Tim Brown also stood out for the Lions as he returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown. He finished with a total of 296 return yards — 157 on punts and 139 more on kick-offs.
The strong night came after new coach Mike Benevides said at training camp that he wanted to see more from Brown and brought other players in to push him for a roster spot.
"The guys in front of me did a great job blocking," said Brown. "They did a great job last week, and we kept on working that chemistry and that teamwork."
Paul McCallum's third field goal of the game, a 19-yarder at 9:34 of the fourth quarter, proved to be the difference. Andrew Harris and Lulay, both on one-yard runs, also scored touchdowns for the Lions.
B.C. overcame early 7-0 and 14-7 deficits before jumping into a big lead and then holding off Hamilton in a game that featured several electrifying plays.
"The ways we were attacking really got to them and we were able to move the ball some," said Tiger-Cats quarterback Henry Burris, who tossed five touchdown passes despite being shaky at times and being pulled briefly at the end of the second quarter.
"We had chances to put ourselves in the lead there but too many inconsistences early in the game came back to haunt us," said Burris. "That's what we talk about as a team that we're coming together and trying to build into become. We got to be consistent for 60 minutes. That's what BC displayed, even when they didn't make plays, they stayed consistent and were able to do what it took to win down the stretch and get a victory for them."
Chevon Walker and Chris Williams both scored two touchdowns for the Tiger-Cats, who outscored the Lions 15-6 in the final quarter only to fall short. Walker's touchdowns came on receptions of 95 and two yards. Williams' first touchdown came on a 67-yard punt return.
Daryl Stephenson produced Hamilton's other touchdown on a nine-yard reception.
Hamilton had won four of the past five-regular-season meetings between the teams dating to 2009. Including playoffs, the Southern Ontario squad was 4-2 against B.C. in the same time span.
The Ticats were not quite able to recover from two B.C. touchdowns 14 seconds apart in the second quarter. Gore's second touchdown of the game, on a 26-yard pass, put the Lions ahead first time at 16-14 and then Anthony Reddick's 47-yard interception return set the stage for Harris' touchdown, which gave B.C. a 23-14 advantage.
The Lions stretched their lead to 33-14 midway through the third quarter before the Ticats rallied.
Williams' second touchdown of the game, on a seven-yard pass, and Andy Fantuz's catch for a two-point convert in the final three minutes brought the Ticats within three points. But a short time later, Harris took a direct snap from centre and romped 61 yards and the Lions were able to run out the clock.
"Across the board, in all three phases of the game, we weren't very consistent," said Hamilton coach George Cortez.