Rookie quarterback Jonathon Jennings leads Lions over Roughriders 46-20

VANCOUVER — Jonathon Jennings threw four touchdowns and caught another on a trick play as the B.C. Lions hammered the Saskatchewan Roughriders 46-20 on Saturday.

Making his second professional start and first at home, the 23-year-old quarterback showed the poise of a veteran in leading his team to a critical victory in the CFL’s West Division standings.

After an interception by defensive lineman Michael Brooks in the third quarter set B.C. up at Saskatchewan’s 21-yard line, the Lions dug into their bag of tricks with the score already 33-5 to cap the club’s most complete performance of the season.

Running back Andrew Harris took a direct snap before moving left and pitching the ball to receiver Austin Collie, who found a streaking Jennings in the end zone between two defenders to make it 40-5 after the extra point.

The Lions (5-8) are now two points up on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (4-10) for third in the division with game in hand ahead of next weekend’s meeting between the clubs at B.C. Place Stadium. The Edmonton Eskimos did the Lions a huge favour earlier Saturday when they downed Winnipeg 24-23.

The Lions came in having lost three straight and five of six, but picked up their third win over the Roughriders in 2015 to complete the season sweep.

B.C. is not only battling Winnipeg for the final playoff spot in West, but also the Montreal Alouettes (5-8), who are a threat to crossover.

Saskatchewan (2-12) was trying to keep its faint post-season hopes alive, but instead fell to 2-3 under interim head coach Bob Dyce. Roughriders quarterback Kevin Glenn, who started all but one game for the Lions last season, looked out of sorts all game, fumbling and throwing an interception on his team’s first two possessions.

Up by 15 points at the half, the Lions put things out of reach on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter when Jennings — who made his first start last weekend in a loss to Edmonton — hooked up with Manny Arceneaux on an 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Arceneaux adjusted to a ball that was slightly under thrown before outracing two defenders to make the score 27-5 with Richie Leone’s convert.

B.C. kept pouring it on later in the quarter, with Jennings finding Arceneaux from five yards out to stretch the lead to 33-5 after Leone missed his second extra point of the day.

After Jennings’ TD catch, the Roughriders finally found the end zone when Keenan MacDougall recovered a blocked punt by Markus White early in the fourth quarter to make it 40-11. The two-point convert attempt failed.

Paul McCallum then added a single on a missed field goal after Saskatchewan recovered an onside kick to cut B.C.’s lead to four touchdowns with just over nine minutes to go.

Leone added a field goal with 6:05 left from 43 yards out.

Saskatchewan then got a late consolation TD on a 47-yard pass from backup quarterback Brett Smith to Naaman Roosevelt. Smith then ran in the two-point convert before Leone hit his fourth field goal for the final points.

Jennings, who was No. 3 on the depth chart before Travis Lulay (knee) and John Beck (pectoral muscle) went down with injuries, had the Lions up 20-5 at the half on touchdown passes to Shawn Gore and Bryan Burnham and seven points from Leone on two field goals and a single.

Saskatchewan’s only points of the opening 30 minutes came on a safety and McCallum field goal from 28 yards.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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