By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — There’s just something about playing the B.C. Lions that brings out the best in Kenny Lawler.
The Winnipeg receiver had seven catches for 200 yards and one touchdown as the Blue Bombers manhandled the Lions with a 50-14 victory on Thursday.
Lawler also had 12 receptions for 205 yards when the Bombers beat the Lions 30-9 in Vancouver on Oct. 2, 2021.
“There’s no greater feeling that hanging a 50 on some guys and just being able to see everybody contribute,” Lawler said of Thursday’s lopsided victory.
“That’s what we play the game for, that’s why we go out there and practise. It’s the ultimate team sport and, man, it was just great being out there.”
Brady Oliveira and Dalton Schoen each had two touchdowns and Nic Demski added one in a game that delivered some payback to the Lions.
The last time the Lions were in Winnipeg in June, they left IG Field with a 30-6 win.
Lawler had missed Winnipeg’s first six games to deal with immigration paperwork stemming from a guilty plea he made this past April over an October 2021 impaired driving charge in Winnipeg. He had returned to the Bombers this season after playing for Edmonton last year.
Winnipeg and B.C. are tied atop the CFL West Division with 6-2 records.
The victory in front of 30,874 fans was a shot to the Lions’ top-ranked defence.
B.C. had only allowed five touchdowns through its first seven games.
Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros completed 19 of 27 pass attempts for 369 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He was replaced by Dru Brown late in the fourth quarter.
Collaros dismissed any revenge factor in the victory, and didn’t think the offence made any kind of statement against B.C.’s defenders.
“It’s just another week,” Collaros said. “Again, it’s a really good defence over there, so any time you can execute your game plan against them you’re excited. The goal is to score touchdowns so we did that pretty well tonight.”
Lions quarterback Dane Evans left the game late in the second quarter and didn’t return.
“He was actually available to come back into the game if needed, but he was a hurting guy,” B.C. head coach Rick Campbell said. “He took a shot, something to do with his ribs or something, but we don’t know yet. It could be something very minor or not.”
Campbell said Evans was hurt when he was hit and planted into the ground. It may have been by Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill. Winnipeg defensive end Willie Jefferson had also pulled down Evans and was penalized for a horse collar tackle.
Evans was 12-of-21 passing for 113 yards and two interceptions. Dominique Davis took over under centre and was 8-of-18 passing for 76 yards.
Campbell said starting quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who’s missed the past two games with a knee injury, has a “very good chance” of being ready to play the Calgary Stampeders on Aug. 12.
The coach credited the Bombers for having “great energy” his team couldn’t match.
“Part of our calling card this year is not giving up big plays,” Campbell said. “And those big plays, especially early in the game, we were just trying to recover from that and we never could.”
Schoen caught a 71-yard touchdown pass from Collaros for Winnipeg’s first score 2:36 into the first quarter. He also grabbed a 14-yard TD pass from Brown and finished with five receptions for 137 yards.
Collaros connected with Lawler for a 57-yard TD five minutes into the opening quarter. Demski pulled in a 30-yard pass for a major three minutes into the third quarter.
Oliveira, who leads the league in rushing, ran in TDs from three and 27 yards. He finished with nine carries for 67 yards.
Sergio Castillo was good on field goals from 37, 16 and 23 yards. He made five of his six convert attempts, with one hitting an upright.
B.C. linebacker Bo Lokombo took a fumble recovery 30 yards for a touchdown 5:29 into the fourth. A two-point convert failed.
Sean Whyte booted field goals from 16 and 47 yards for the Lions. Punter Stefan Flintoft had a pair of punt singles.
Winnipeg led 14-1 after the first quarter, 27-4 at halftime and 37-8 after the third.
Lawler predicted the outpouring of points could be a sign of things to come.
“It was an offensive statement that we’re back, we’re going to be very, very dynamic and we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with,” he said.
NOTES: When the Lions beat the Bombers in June, Collaros was sacked seven times. He wasn’t sacked once in the rematch … Winnipeg was coming off its first bye week of the season and is now 12-1 after a break … Demerio Houston’s interception of Evans in the second quarter was his league-leading sixth pick of the season.