Adams, Hollins lead B.C. Lions to 34-25 win over Alouettes

B.C. Lions head coach Rick Campbell expected Saturday night’s game to come down to the wire. And at the end of the day, his team made big plays when it mattered most.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. threw for more than 300 yards for the fourth consecutive game, and the Lions (8-4) snapped a two-game CFL losing streak by defeating the Montreal Alouettes (6-5) 34-25 in a back-and-forth affair.

Up 27-25 with five minutes left, Lions safety Quincy Mauger picked off Montreal quarterback Cody Fajardo to prevent a touchdown before B.C. added to its lead and sealed the win.

“That’s what it comes down to, right? Late in the fourth quarter it’s about which team makes more plays,” said Campbell, who was especially proud of his team for beating a “good” Alouettes team a second time this season.

“Our guys made the plays and obviously that interception was a huge one.”

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Before Fajardo’s interception, Montreal had faked a punt on third down and running back Jeshrun Antwi rushed 43 yards to get within 22 yards of B.C.’s end zone.

Alouettes head coach Jason Maas gave credit to Mauger for making a play.

“If (Fajardo) could see the whole field to do it maybe he throws a little bit differently or doesn’t throw it at all,” said Maas. “But at the end of the day, that one I’ll give them credit, that guy made a play.”

Despite the turnover, Montreal had time on the clock and came close to quickly regaining possession on the ensuing drive, but was undone by two penalties.

First came an unnecessary roughness call on linebacker Tyrice Beverette after the whistle with B.C. on second and 14, then defensive tackle Almondo Sewell received a roughing-the-passer penalty on a play that was initially ruled a sack.

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Lions running back Taquan Mizzell eventually ran the ball seven yards into the end zone to give B.C. the nine-point lead with 1:33 left and put the game out of reach.

The reverse of Sewell’s sack after a challenge by the Lions received loud boos from the 17,112 spectators on hand, but Maas had more issues with the first penalty.

“The one I was more disappointed with was a second-and-14 call where we get a good stop and then we take an unsportsmanlike conduct and we cannot have that,” said Maas. “That was more detrimental to us.”

Adams, starting in Montreal for the first time since being traded by the Alouettes last season, went 21-for-33 for 306 yards and three touchdown passes for B.C. (8-4) at Molson Stadium. He also rushed for 54 yards.

“This is a second home for me, spent seven years here, so it means a lot,” said Adams. “I’m absolutely gonna cherish this, man. I got the game ball right here, I’m gonna keep it with me because this is a big win.”

He connected twice for touchdowns with Lions receiver Alexander Hollins, who totalled 88 receiving yards.

“He came to compete,” said Campbell of Adams. “Really glad he’s on our side. He wasn’t going to be denied tonight, you can see the effort he put in.”

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On the other end, Fajardo was having a solid game for Montreal before throwing two late picks, including the crucial turnover to Mauger.

Besides his interceptions, Fajardo threw for 308 yards on 22-for-35 completions, but also had only one touchdown pass despite multiple opportunities for more.

It has been a constant theme this season for the Alouettes. They entered Saturday night’s game tied for second-last in offensive touchdowns with 17, only six of which were off Fajardo throws.

“At the end of the day, our red zone offence is not very good,” Maas said. “It wasn’t good enough tonight, it hasn’t been all year, and it starts with me. I’m the play caller and I’ve got to start picking better plays to call.”

Montreal kicker David Cote went 4-for-5 on field goals with one rouge. B.C. kicker Sean Whyte was 2-for-2.

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The fourth quarter had started with a moment of magic from Montreal running back William Stanback, split the defence down the middle and rushed to a 69-yard TD, his first of the season, to put Montreal up 25-24.

B.C. then kicked a field goal to go up 27-25.

Montreal’s Austin Mack built on his league lead in receiving yards with 143 on seven receptions, including one touchdown.

After Montreal kicked a field goal to open the scoring, B.C. produced the first touchdown of the game with 4:44 remaining in the first quarter.

In the second, Adams let it fly down the middle and Hollins brought it down under double coverage before running into the end zone for a 62-yard TD to give the Lions a 17-6 lead.

The Alouettes got downfield twice before the half ended, and cut the deficit to 17-12.

To open the second half, Montreal broke through with Mack making an acrobatic catch deep in the right side of the end zone and just barely staying in bounds, redeeming an end-zone pass he dropped in the first half and giving Montreal an 18-17 lead after missing a two-point convert.

B.C. regained the lead with 2:20 left in the third, going up 24-19 as Adams connected with Keon Hatcher on a 17-yard TD pass before Stanback replied with his TD run to open the fourth.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2023.

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