Lions roll over Roughriders in CFL pre-season game
VANCOUVER - Nic Moore's year of redemption got off to a good start Wednesday.
The second-year receiver caught two touchdown passes as the B.C. Lions thumped the Saskatchewan Roughriders 44-10 in the first CFL pre-season game for both teams at B.C. Place Stadium.
"It does a lot," said Moore. "Last year was kind of a frustrating year for me. Great to win the Grey Cup, but personally it was kind of frustrating. To go out there today and do something for the team feels great."
The 25-year-old American is looking to redeem himself and earn more playing time after some untimely dropped passes led to him being placed on the practice roster for the final seven games of the regular season and three playoff contests.
"I'm just trying to come out this year and (prove) to the coaches that I want to be here," he said.
Moore caught two of new No. 2 quarterback Mike Reilly's three touchdown passes in the second and third quarters.
"We had a little bit of chemistry last year," said Moore. "And as you can see we've been working hard during training camp and you can see it in this pre-season."
One play after running for 13 yards on a third-and-10 gamble, Reilly threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Moore in the final minute of the first half, staking the Lions to a 20-3 lead.
Reilly and Moore connected for another TD with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, giving the Lions to a 33-3 advantage.
This time, Reilly threw 30 yards to Moore for the longest gain of any receiver on the night. The TD came one play after Reilly romped 20 yards to the Saskatchewan 30-yard line.
Moore caught four passes for a total of 77 yards, the most output yardage-wise of any receiver from either squad. The strong production came after the University of Toledo product spent the off-season working out with his brother Lance, who catches passes for the New Orlean Saints, and other CFL and NFL hopefuls in the Louisiana city, Columbus, Ohio and Tampa Bay.
"I didn't change anything too much," said Moore, who was a two-time all Midwest Athletic Conference all-star in college. "I just made sure I knew all my plays — not only one position, but I tried to know all the positions. The more I can do, the better."
Moore succeeded in making an impression on new coach Mike Benevides, who earned a win in his game on the sidelines as a field boss. Benevides said Moore did exactly what was expected of him.
"He's a good football player, he's a fluid football player, he runs wonderful routes, and he had a very good day for himself today," said Benevides. "He acquitted himself extremely well.
"He's been around with us for a while. He has a good understanding of the offence. He knows the quarterbacks. So he performed at a high level, and I'm happy for him."
Moore helped Reilly, a 27-year-old Kennewick, Wash., native who is entering his third season with the Lions, complete 16 of 24 passes for 189 yards in two quarters of action. Reilly also ran for 58 yards on seven carries and demonstrated that he is a suitable replacement for Jarious Jackson, who was released and signed as a free agent with Toronto in the off-season.
Benevides sidestepped the question of whether Moore is in a tough spot to make the team. But general manager Wally Buono was more blunt.
"Nic Moore has been with us off and on for two years," said Buono. "I think it's a make-it-or-break-it season for him this year. He's had a good camp and he had a good game. (I'm) also impressed with Moore. So you've gotta take note of some of that."
Buono said the Lions have always believed Moore had the ability to excel in the CFL. But last year he got hurt early in the season and struggled when he did get into games.
"Hopefully, he's grown from that and he can be what we want him to be," said Buono.
Notes: The Lions returned to their Kamloops, B.C., training camp base right after the game.