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Nathan Rourke has grabbed the early headlines this CFL season — and not simply because he's a rare Canadian quarterback.
The 24-year-old from Victoria, B.C., powered the B.C. Lions (2-0) to a pair of lopsided victories to start the campaign and, last week, set a league record in the process. Rourke threw for 436 yards and hit a new single-game record for passing yards by a Canadian QB as the Lions thumped the Toronto Argonauts 44-3.
B.C. has scored 103 points this year, matching the most any CFL club has put up in the first two games of a season (Toronto, 1992).
While much of the attention has been on Rourke, the Lions' defence has been solid, too, giving up just 18 points, including a single touchdown.
B.C. will need both the offence and defence to click once again on Thursday as they take on the rested Redblacks in Ottawa.
Ottawa (0-2) is coming off a bye after dropping a 19-12 decision to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Week 2 action.
Redblacks QB Jeremiah Masoli is trying for a third-straight game with more than 300 passing yards. He's hit the mark in six of his last eight starts dating back to his time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year.
Ottawa will add a potent piece to the lineup this week with running back William Powell making his season debut. The 34-year-old Kansas State product missed the first two games with an Achilles injury but was a full participant in practice on Monday.
The Lions, meanwhile, will be without star receiver Bryan Burnham, who was added to the six-game injured list after suffering fractured ribs in Saturday's win. He'll be replaced in the lineup by Josh Pearson, a 25-year-old American who spent 2020 with the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Edmonton Elks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Friday night)
It's been a rough start to the season for both the Elks (0-3) and Tiger-Cats (0-3). Hamilton's Dane Evans leads the league in passing yards (884) but completed just 25 of 42 attempts in the Ticats 26-12 loss to the Blue Bombers last week. Edmonton seemed to be trending in the right direction on Saturday, jumping out to a 10-point lead over the Stampeders before Calgary climbed back for a 30-23 victory. Elks QB Nick Arbuckle threw for 226 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his return to Calgary, the city where he started his CFL career.
Montreal Alouettes at Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday night)
The Roughriders (2-1) will look to exact some revenge in the back half of this home-and-home series. Last week, Montreal's Trevor Harris started in place of Vernon Adams Jr. — who tested positive for COVID-19 — and threw for 262 yards and a TD, powering the Als to a 37-13 victory. Montreal (1-2) limited Saskatchewan's offence with eight sacks, three interceptions and five pass knock-downs. Riders QB Cody Fajardo will want to bounce back after connecting on 17 of 28 attempts for 191 yards in Week 3.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Toronto Argonauts (Monday night)
The reigning Grey Cup-champion Blue Bombers (3-0) are undefeated to start the season after posting a 26-12 win over the Ticats on Friday. Winnipeg defensive lineman Willie Jefferson had a dominant outing, with three tackles, a sack and a pick six — a performance that earned him a CFL top performer of the week nod. The Argos (1-1), meanwhile, are looking to recover from the ugly 44-3 loss they suffered in B.C. Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie called his team's performance "embarrassing."
Last week: 3-1
Overall record: 11-1
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press