VANCOUVER — Ty Long was eager for a special moment, and he got one.
Long's 39-yard field goal in overtime gave the B.C. Lions a 35-32 comeback victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night.
"I was really excited for that last kick," said Long in a jubilant Lions dressing room. "I wanted it to come down to me."
The winning score came after B.C. and Hamilton exchanged field goals in overtime and Hamilton kicker Lirim Hajrullahu missed another three-point attempt in the extra session. B.C. rallied to tie the game in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter.
"That's why I grind like I do," said Long, a 25-year-old Roswell, Ga., native who is in his second CFL season. "Two years, I spent without a team. No one wanted me. I was working because I knew I could play."
Long was good on all four of his field-goal attempts with two of them coming from 50 yards.
The Lions posted their third straight win to even their season record at 6-6, while the Tiger-Cats (6-7) dropped below .500 as they suffered their second-straight loss. Prior to Saturday B.C. had not sported an even mark since the second week of the season.
B.C. receiver Bryan Burnham's second touchdown reception of the game and his successful two-point convert reception in the dying seconds of the fourth-quarter forced overtime. A video review determined that Burnham kept one foot in bounds on the two-point conversion after officials initially ruled an incomplete pass.
"My heart's beating out of my chest right now," said Burnham. "I'm excited for this team."
How close was he to being out of bounds?
"I guess by just a blade of grass," said Burnham with a smile. "I'm just so glad for instant replay."
Quarterback Jonathon Jennings picked up his first win as a starter since B.C.'s season-opening home win over Montreal in mid-June. Playing in place of injured No. 1 Travis Lulay (shoulder), Jennings posted his finest performance of the season, completing 32-of-47 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
"It feels great," said Jennings of the win. "We needed it. That's my job — to do everything I can to help this team win."
Cory Watson also scored a touchdown for B.C. and Ricky Collins supplied a two-point convert reception.
Mike Jones caught touchdown passes of 75 and 55 yards for Hamilton, but he was not thrilled about his showing afterward.
"After losing, it doesn't really matter too much," said a disappointed Jones, whose second touchdown came with 1:46 left in regulation time and staked Hamilton to a 29-21 lead.
John White ran for another TD. Hajrullahu supplied Hamilton's other points.
The Lions led 3-0 after the first quarter, but the Tiger-Cats turned their fortunes around with two quick touchdowns in the second quarter while shutting out the hosts, and kept the lead for most of the game before the late drama.
"We didn't execute, that was it," said Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who completed 19-of-25 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns.
Jennings made his first start since a July 25 loss in Winnipeg, but he had played most of the previous two games, both wins, as a result of injuries to Lulay, who is expected to miss four to six weeks.
The Ticats played without top receiver and kick returner Brandon Banks (groin), while fellow pass-catchers Chris Williams and Jalen Saunders remained out with potentially season-ending health woes.
Hamilton has been dominant in the first quarter this season. But the Lions got on the scoreboard first, 10:55 into the game, after a couple of penalties forced them to settle for a Long 51-yard field goal. It was only Long's second field-goal attempt from beyond 50 yards this season. He has been good on both of them.
The Ticats had a chance to draw even early in the second quarter, but Harjullahu sent a 42-yard field-goal attempt wide left, and Anthony Orange ran the ball out of the end zone, denying the visitors of a single point. On the next play, Jennings threw a 32-yard pass to Ricky Collins, but the Lions could not sustain the drive.
"We knew it was going to go down to the last just like it did last year," said Hamilton coach June Jones referring to a one-point Hamilton win exactly one year earlier on Sept. 22, 2017 at B.C. Place. "I told the guys that before the game."
B.C. defensive lineman's Davon Coleman's sack on Masoli and a Hamilton pass interference penalty spurred the late B.C. rally, which was aided by a Hamilton pass interference penalty and led to a Jennings nine-yard touchdown pass to Burnham before Masoli connected with Mike Jones for a second long-distance touchdown with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for the late heroics.
"It sucks, it's a tough loss," said Jones.
Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press