BC Lions – Diversity Night Game

The Lions opened their season at BC Place with a convincing 59-15 win over the Edmonton Elks on June 11th.  The BC Lions were coming off a bye week for week two of the season.

The BC Lions were back in action on June 25th against the Toronto Argonauts at BC Place Stadium. Both Lions and Argonauts had won their respective season openers. This was the 100th all-time regular season matchup between the two teams. The Lions hold a record of 59-38-2 against the Argos prior to their week two head to head matchup. These teams will meet twice in 2022, with the first meeting being June 25th in Vancouver and the return match up in October in Toronto.  

The Quarterbacks matchup was between the Lions Nathan Rourke and the Argonauts McLeod Bethel-Thompson. As for the season opener statistics Nathan Rourke was coming off an outstanding performance in the win over Edmonton where he completed 89.7 percent of his passes (26/29) and threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 78 yards and two more majors on seven carries. Nathan was named Player of The Week to start 2022 after setting a record for completion percentage by a Canadian quarterback.

As for McLeod Bethel-Thompson he had split his four previous career starts against the Lions, winning the first game back in August 2018. His most recent start against the Lions was in October 2021 with losses in October 2018 and July 2019.

Diversity is about the Canadian Football League (CFL) taking pride on its diverse makeup. The league knows that their strength comes from diversity be that of heritage, orientation, religion, ability, thought and so much more. The CFL has a long standing tradition of welcoming players from all types of backgrounds; from signing the first black quarterback to the first openly gay player. The CFL considers diversity to be an integral part of who they are. Diversity Night was the theme of the BC Lions game and they had a variety of special performers showcasing their cultural backgrounds.

The BC Lions Backyard party kicked off at 4pm on the Terry Fox Plaza and all ages were welcomed. There were specials on beers and margaritas for $5 for those 19+ while Side One was on stage for a musical performance to get the fans into a festive mood. Also, there was a setup for kids inside the stadium at Gate F. The Kids Club had setup bouncy castles and various other games which the kids could enjoy prior to watching the Lions game. Another neat perk was the first 5,000 fans to come through BC Place would receive a complimentary cowbell courtesy of London Drugs.

International Bhangra DJ Jovan Heer from Lucid Entertainment was spinning his latest Bhangra tracks inside the stadium. DJ Heer had the crowd on its feet during the pregame and in between the quarters with latest music from some of the well renowned artists of the Bhangra industry. These artists included, Diljit Dosanjh, Sidhu Moosewala, and Amrit Mann to name a few. DJ Heer did a great job to keep the crowd engaged for the entire night.

The game’s opening introduction for BC Lions team had the crowd on their feet. The crowd was chanting and cheering on the team as they came out onto the field for their pre-game and for the national anthem. The BC Lions Roar dance team led the charge onto the field with flags from different countries to illustrate the diversity of the BC Lions team. Another way the Lions honored the diversity in our community was by welcoming and hosting the association of the United Ukrainian team. The national anthem was sung by a fellow Ukrainian named Abegail Avramenko.

The game started off with both teams playing with high intensity and great offensive and defensive plays. However, the Lions drew first blood of the game as a nine play 68 yard drive resulted in Nathan Rourke’s 19 yard touchdown pass to Bryan Burnham. The crowd was pumped after the touchdown and the Lions defence used the crowd’s energy to their advantage. I would say a great deal of momentum shift happened when the Lions defence stopped the Argonauts offense on the ensuing possession of the football. It was Obum Gwacham and his huge play of stuffing the Argonauts short yardage quarterback Austin Simmons on a third and goal from the Lions one yard line. The Lions offense would go back the other way to the Argonauts 16 yard and a Sean Whyte field goal would make this is a two score game. The score after the first quarter was 10-0 for the Lions.

As for the Argonauts they started the second quarter by scoring a field goal to make the score 10-3, however, the Lions came right back and Rourke’s 19 yard touchdown pass to Dominique Rhymes built up the lead to 17-3. As a result of the sustained offensive pressure by the Lions, the Argonauts could not gain any traction to put up points on the board. The second quarter ended with a Sean Whyte field goal to push the lead to 20-3 going into half-time.

The half-time show featured a traditional Polynesian dance performance by Paul Latta’s Dancers and company. The crowd was mesmerized by the performance as it showcased the Polynesian culture and its traditional dance. The company is Canada’s first authentic premier Polynesian Dance Company and it is celebrating its 50 years of instruction and performance excellence. I found the dance performance was a fitting tribute to the theme night of Diversity is Strength.

 The third quarter was another vintage performance by the Lions offense and defense. The offense put up ten unanswered points and the defense kept the Argonauts offense from gaining any momentum. As for the fourth and final quarter it was the same story as the Lions scored fourteen unanswered points and the final score was 44-3 for the Lions.

This was the most complete game of the BC Lions season and they started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2016. As for Nathan Rourke, he set the record for most passing yards in a game by a Canadian quarterback with 436 yards and the Lions had a dominating 583 yards of total offence. A mind blowing statistic from the game was the Lions had 40 minutes of possession which showcased the Lions domination over the Argonauts.

Overall, I highly recommend fans of all ages to attend a BC Lions game. It is a great family event which everyone would enjoy. I had the pleasure of attending the Diversity Night game and it was a great experience.

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