Reilly has come full circle, but Rourke left the Leo QB carousel

From being the youngest CFL starter to now the oldest, Mike Reilly has led the way for the BC Lions, happy to make it through this season. Nathan Rourke is just happy to be with him.

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The last time the BC Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders met, it was a carousel of quarterbacks and roller coasters brought together in one very entertaining CFL race.


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The Riders took a 31-0 lead in Game 1 of the season, with rookie Nathan Rourke receiving a last-minute pat on the shoulder to replace long-awaited starter Michael Reilly. The Leos’ older statesmen then surprised everyone – even coach Rick Campbell, who was unaware his QB had decided to replay during his half-time interview – by starting the second half .

Reilly threw for 200 yards and a touchdown in the second half before giving way again to Rourke. The rookie finished the game with 194 passing yards and two touchdowns, but a pick of six and a late-game interception shone in what has been a brilliant start to their professional career, as Gang Green held on for. victory 34-29.

The game’s fun factor was off the charts, but Rourke still has a bee in his hood, and it wasn’t the wasp swarm that was pestering him after practice Wednesday.


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“I kind of think about the tough start and the tough end,” he said. “I try to allow myself to feel something good, because it was a difficult situation when you think about it.

“This is the position you want to be in, isn’t it?” He said of the last practice, where he was first and -10 on his own 30 when he was intercepted with 26 seconds left.



Saskatchewan Roughriders vs BC Lions

7:30 p.m., BC Place Stadium. Television: TSN. Radio: AM 730

“You want to have the ball in your hands, to win the game. It wasn’t like it was a knocked down ball or anything… it was a bad decision. It was a mistake I had already made. I really want redemption.

He’ll have his chance when those same Riders head to Vancouver for a Friday night game at sold-out BC Place Stadium, but he’ll have to find his spots to contribute, as Reilly’s elbow is much healthier than it is. was during the season. opener.


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The 36-year-old has broken the 330-yard barrier in four of his last five games – including three in a row – and leads the league in efficiency (119.5), completion rate (75.6) and has only one choice this year. He is second in passing yards (1601) behind Zach Collaros of Winnipeg, and notched his third best player of the week this season after his performance of 308 yards and two touchdowns against Montreal last week.

He’s the oldest quarterback in the league, so there are invariably comparisons to Tom Brady, him of the mystical “TB12” training methodology.

“Well, he’s 44, so I still have a ways to go for that,” Reilly laughed Wednesday.

He pointed out that Rourke was in grade school when he started CFL games as the league’s youngest starter, so it’s a bit of a full circle now that he’s the oldest.


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“He’s kind of turned around in the last two games,” Rourke said. “He plays, really, really well.

“But ask him about the two donuts he had before practice. And then ask him questions about his TB12, ”he added with a smile.

Nathan Rourke trains at the BC Lions training center in May.
Nathan Rourke trains at the BC Lions training center in May. British Columbia Lions Photo /PNG

The two BC hubs share an irreverent and self-deprecating sense of humor, and there’s a crossover in their skills as well. Reilly’s accuracy and ability to read and manipulate tusks are on another level, but he’s also not shy about lowering it and running; his current average of 5.9 yards per carry is the highest since 2014. Rourke’s college career has been on the run with Ohio, and when he snatched a 17 yards in a short distance game. against the Als last week, many wondered why there weren’t more play calls like this.


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“I recognize him as a strength for me… (But) you want to be able to show that you can pitch and that you can be a professional quarterback – that’s the main thing,” Rourke said of his role with the Lions happy with the pass, who throw the ball more than 70 percent of the time. “I ran a lot in college… but everything, at this point, anything I can do and put on the field, I’m more than happy to do it, and I’m glad they got it. give the opportunity. “

Starting against the Riders in Week 1 was unexpected, and despite his eventful first half, Rourke looked ready and able to take on a starting role in the league before long. He’s been a substitute again now, but takes note of everything Reilly does, from training preparation (minus the donuts), how he performs on the pitch and on the sidelines, and how he translates the work of the week. at stake. -day success.


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“It’s not easy not to play, but the best thing you can do is watch someone like him play,” he said. “It’s been a transition to pro play, practice and the way the week is going. But as Michael becomes healthy, I move on to the fact that I get five reps during training and after that it’s just a lot of mental reps. It’s not exactly the easiest thing, but it’s just a part of it.

” I can not wait to return to. I can’t wait to play.

REMARKS: Cornerback Garry Peters has been suspended for a game for verbal abuse of a doping control officer after an incident after the game against Montreal. He is expected to appeal his suspension to, at the very least, play Friday’s game.

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