VANCOUVER - Jeremiah Johnson seemed determined to put an end to the B.C. Lions tailback tandem once and for all Friday.
The first-year Lions running back had the best rushing performance by a player at his position in the CFL this season, running for 159 yards on 16 carries and scoring three touchdowns in a punishing 38-27 win over the Montreal Alouettes.
Johnson was re-inserted back into the Lions lineup after sitting two games in favour of Anthony Allen. The two backs have been rotated throughout the first 11 games of the season. B.C. began play with the best running game in the CFL, averaging 96.2 yards per game.
The Lions were even better Friday, winning their third straight game. B.C. had 252 yards along the ground and 585 yards net offence overall.
"From the first run to the last the front five blocked their butts off. That's what happened when you pay attention to detail in practice," said Johnson, who signed as a free agent in the off-season after CFL stints in Ottawa and Toronto.
"The switching is nothing negative. We're both buying into the system. That's how you keep the running game fresh. It's rough, playing 18 games and you're getting 15 or 16 carries. I'm blessed for the opportunity and I'm blessed for the system."
B.C. took little time establishing a ground game and it paid dividends quickly.
Johnson's first carry on the opening play of scrimmage went for 23 yards. Two plays later Lions quarterback Jon Jennings found Emmanuel Arceneaux with a 25-yard touchdown throw.
Jennings drove the offence to a 12-yard touchdown run by Johnson to cap a six-play, 72 yard scoring drive on the second possession. On the Lions third drive, Johnson scored again on a one-yard run.
B.C. had a 21-3 lead early and was in full command. Als quarterback Rakeem Cato engineered one Montreal drive only to settle for a short field goal by Anthony Fera, who started the season with the Lions.
Trailing by a large margin, the Alouettes also had to briefly abandon the ground attack led by Tyrell Sutton. However the league's defending rushing champion was Montreal's most dangerous offensive weapon, not receiver Duron Carter, who was playing his first game after serving a one-game suspension.
It was a listless showing for Cato, who last year led the Alouettes to only their second win in Vancouver in 15 meetings in 2015.
It took the Als defence to provide their first spark. Linebacker Chip Cox scooped up a fumble by Lions receiver Geraldo Boldewijn and ran it 58 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
However, the Lions responded on the ensuing possession. Backup quarterback Travis Lulay ran in from a yard out to complete a drive stalled twice by Lions penalties and kept alive by a pair of long, second-down conversions.
Johnson was too much all by himself, though he had plenty of support from a B.C. offensive line that had made two changes to the starting lineup prior to the game.
"When you get holes like we had, no cutting is needed," Johnson said.
Fera's four field goals accounted for all of Montreal's offensive output until there was only 4:11 left in the game when Cato found Nik Lewis on a 26-yard scoring strike.
The win enabled the 8-3 Lions to exceed last year's win total and maintain their hold on second place in the West Division.
Montreal (3-8) remains on the road next week with a game Aug. 16 in Hamilton. B.C. has a bye, returning to face Edmonton Aug. 23.