Calgary, AB- Early on, it had the makings of a track meet. In the end, the BC Lions had to grind it out but would ultimately prevail 25-15 over the Calgary Stampeders in their 2023 regular season opener at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. Complimentary football proved to be the difference as the Lions get a big victory over a division rival to kick off their campaign. Now for some game takes from Matt Baker following a triumphant night on a hot night in Calgary.
No Rust For VA And Company
Adams Jr. and the offence came out firing on all cylinders as they took advantage of a Calgary field goal miss to run the ball down 95 yards on 11 plays before the quarterback found Dominique Rhymes for his first of two touchdown catches of the half. Adams Jr. was also a perfect 9/9 on the opening series, picking up right where he left off from a perfect pre-season outing.
He found Rhymes for another touchdown connection early in the second quarter and then ran one in on his own in the fourth to put them ahead 22-6. The defence did its job late when it mattered most.
“By the Grace of God man, we came out on fire on the first couple of drives. I talked a little bit out there, stalled out on the next few, second quarter and stuff like that,” the QB said.
“Defence had an amazing game. They did a good job against an amazing offence, great playcaller, great quarterback. We’re just going to fix some things, see the film and get better.”
Adams Jr. finished his night 27/35 for 270 yards and the three total majors and also recovere nicely from a second-quarter interception to Cameron Judge in which the defence would eventually hold Calgary to a field goal. With Keon Hatcher out due to injury and Lucky Whitehead missing a big stretch of this one with a hamstring issue, it was refreshing to see Rhymes step up. Whitehead would return in the second half.
“They gave me an opportunity to make plays, I’ve got to make plays for him,” Rhymes added.
“At the end of the day, he’s our quarterback, he’s our leader and I want to be the best person I can be for him so I can make our offence successful.”
They passed test number one.
‘Air’ McInnis Puts It Away
What can you say about the leaping grab by Justin McInnis to extend the Lions’ final series? Without that, the Stampeders get the ball back with plenty of time to try to even things up. Talk about a timely catch…
Bend But Don’t Break Defence Wins Out
They kept Jake Maier and company out of the end zone until the late stages and made a few key stops that led to field goals. All in all, a solid effort for the defensive unit even if it appeared they had a huge missed opportunity when TJ Lee’s interception resulted in a fumble on an attempted lateral. That miscue only cost them three on the scoreboard. There was pressure in key moments up front with Mathieu Betts and Bo Lokombo recording sacks. They also held the Stampeders’ two bigger targets in Maleek Henry and Reggie Begelton in check for much of the evening.
You have to think the coaching staff will be happy breaking down that side of the ball.
“We talked about it this morning in our meeting that there is going to be ebbs and flows to this game,” said head coach Rick Campbell.
“We know they can distribute the ball everywhere but definitely, those are two of their really good players and if you can limit those guys throwing, that’s a big thing. Obviously, Calgary when they get ahead on the scoreboard and they can just pound the ball, that’s a good world to live in for them. As a football team, playing ahead instead of playing from behind helps when you play these guys.”
403- the Lions’ net offence in this contest compared to just 243 for the Stampeders.
100- Rhymes hit the century mark in receiving yards to pick up right where he left off as the team’s leading receiver in 2022. He hauled in 13 receptions.
77.1- completion percentage for Big Play VA.
81- rushing yards for Taquan Mizzell who came through with a big run on the final series which led to Shaun Whyte’s field goal to salt the game away late.
160– passing yards for Stampeders pivot Jake Maier on just 19 completions.
4- the number of consecutive Lion wins in Calgary. This dates back to week two of the 2021 campaign. Three different quarterbacks have been behind centre for this streak: Adams Jr., Nathan Rourke and Michael Reilly.
The Lions return home for a week two matchup against the Edmonton Elks on Saturday, June 17. Kickoff is 4:00 pm.