Lions wrap up West by crushing Alouettes

Quarterback Travis Lulay threw four touchdown passes, three of them to running back Andrew Harris, as the B.C. Lions shredded the Montreal Alouettes 43-1 Saturday night to claim first place in the CFL West.
B.C. Lions' Shawn Gore, left, and Travis Lulay celebrate Gore's touchdown against the Montreal Alouettes during the first half of the Lions' 43-1 romping of the Als in their final regular season game. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Quarterback Travis Lulay threw four touchdown passes, three of them to running back Andrew Harris, as the B.C. Lions shredded the Montreal Alouettes 43-1 Saturday night to claim first place in the CFL West.

Lulay threw four touchdown passes, three of them to running back Andrew Harris, as the Lions won the right to host the West Final for the first time since 2007.

Lulay limped off the field early in the fourth quarter favouring his left knee after taking a hit from Montreal linebacker Chip Cox and halfback Billy Parker.

"I got a knee to the thigh," Lulay said. "I'll be all right.

"It's going to be sore for a couple of days."

Buono, the Lions coach and general manager, became angry when asked why the team's No. 1 quarterback was still playing with B.C. leading by 36 points and the game's outcome settled.

"It's football," snapped Buono. "Those guys don't want to come out.

"It's not a matter of what the score is. It's a matter of this is professional football. You want to keep your pedal to the metal. You don't treat a quarterback, in my mind, different than anybody else."

Lulay walked through the dressing room after the impressive victory high-fiving some teammates, hugging others.

The tall red head methodically picked apart the Alouette defence. He tossed short passes to wide-open receivers in the flat and fired long balls down the field.

Receivers like Harris, Arland Bruce and Geroy Simon cut a swath through the Montreal secondary. They caught passes with no Alouette defender within several yards.

Lulay laughed when asked if the win was as easy as it looked.

"When you are playing hard and playing fast it feels that way, but it never is," said Lulay, who completed 19-of-30 passes for 280 yards and one interception.

"When you are playing that fast and executing well you do make life much easier for yourself. The guys were just ready to play."

Lulay also rushed for 51 yards on three carries.

Harris, who had five catches for 74 yards, said he couldn't believe how open he was sometimes.

"Coming out of the backfield lots of time there was nobody around me at all," he said.

After starting the season a miserable 0-5 the Lions won 10 of their last 11 games. They can earn a trip to the Nov. 27 Grey Cup in Vancouver without leaving home.

The Lions, Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders all finish tied  11-7 in the West. B.C. is seeded first after winning the season series against both teams.

The Eskimos will host the Stampeders in next Sunday's West semifinal.

"We wanted to play at home," said Simon, who had five catches for 107 yards.

"We kept believing in ourselves as a team. The opportunity came and we took advantage of it."

The Alouettes lost their third consecutive game and saw their hopes of finishing first in the East chewed up by a snarling Lions defence.

Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo was sacked four times, twice by defensive end Brent Johnson. When Calvillo managed to find a receiver it often was for little or no gain.

Montreal was held to 146 yards net offence compared to 477 for B.C. The Als had just eight first downs.

Brandon Whitaker, the league's leading rusher, had 14 yards on five carries. Jamel Richardson, the CFL's top receiver, had two catches for five yards.

"We were completely dominated tonight," said Montreal coach Marc Trestman. "We played a team that came with a sense of urgency.

"They played fast, they made plays and collectively we didn't show up as a football team."

Montreal is tied with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 10-8. The Bombers take first in the East because they beat the Als two out of three games this year.

The Alouettes will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in next Sunday's East semifinal.

Calvillo, the league's leading passer with over 5,100 yards, left late in the third quarter having competed nine-of-17 passes for just 63 yards.

"It was embarrassing," said Calvillo. "They came out and wanted it more than us. They went out there and dominated."

Johnson, who became a father for the first time last weekend, said the Lions played hard but kept it simple.

"We went out and played disciplined football," he said. "When you do that good things happen."

Harris scored on plays of seven, 11 and 33 yards. Canadian wide receiver Shawn Gore also found the end zone on a seven-yard pass, the first touchdown of his career.

Paul McCallum kicked field goals of 32, 27, 18, 32 and 38 yards and won the season scoring race with 203 points.

McCallum set a CFL record for being good on 94.3 per cent of his field goals this season.

"Out of everything that has gone on all year that is probably the most important statistic for me," said the 41-year-old, who was good on 50-of-53 field goals. "It shows your consistency."

McCallum also set a record this year by kicking 30 consecutive field goals.

Sean Whyte scored a single off a 64-yard punt on Montreal's first drive.

Actor Russell Crowe was part of the crowd of 35,454 who watched the game at BC Place Stadium.

Both teams went into the game knowing they needed a victory to finish first in their division.

The door was opened for the Alouettes when the Stampeders defeated the Blue Bombers 30-24 Saturday afternoon.

Edmonton beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 23-20 Friday night.

The Alouettes were looking to finish first in the East for the fifth time in sixth years.

Montreal is now 1-10 playing in B.C. dating back to 2001.

Buono was proud of how his team overcame their terrible start.

"They have answered the bell now for a lot of weeks," he said. "They had a lot of pressure on them.

"We've had a lot of big games. We have answered the ball."