Back in the win column. The BC Lions (4-1-0)) received some big plays from all three phases en route to a 35-19 home victory over the Montreal Alouettes on a steamy Sunday night in downtown Vancouver. Vernon Adams Jr. won’t be hearing any doubters after a solid performance to improve to 8-3 overall as the Lions’ starting quarterback since last September. Now for some game takes from Matt Baker following the week five victory.
VA Is Just Fine, Thank You
In what can now be considered a simple moment of comic relief, Adams Jr. appeared to have his second throw of the game returned for a touchdown by Montreal’s Marc-Antoine Deqouy. Once you saw the laundry on the field, you had a feeling it just might be Vernon’s night.
After the Alouettes were flagged for illegal contact, the Leos’ offence took advantage of the new life and drove the length of the field for an opening-drive touchdown. The quarterback helped his own cause with a 22-yard run to set them up for a Dom Davis one-yard plunge to open the scoring. Always the ultimate competitor, Adams never waivered despite nearly giving his old team an early gift.
“I did tell myself like, ‘Hey, come on. Yeah, you can’t start like that.’ But no doubt, I knew we were going to come back and do our thing, ” the winning QB said after the game.
Adams finished his night 21/26 for 291 yards and a touchdown pass to Jevon Cottoy to help break the game open in the third quarter. The Cottoy major came one play after a perfectly-thrown ball to Keon Hatcher. On a night where top receiver Dominique Rhymes was held in check, it was comforting to see a few other guys hold down the fort.
“All these guys are reliable man. Especially Cottoy,” added Adames.
“He’s one of those guys who does it all. So having him available and just moving around with me with my eyes and everything, he’s a great target. That Swiss Army Knife, so I love having him out there for sure.”
Added head coach Rick Campbell on the play of his quarterback: “That’s been like how he’s been here. His body work is really good here and his record as a starting quarterback has been really good here,” Campbell explained.
“I thought personally for me, he took a disproportionate amount of flack last week for a guy that’s done so well here and on a 3-1 football team. So good on him, not surprised. But yeah, proud of him and proud of the team for bouncing back. It’s always good when you lose the game to be able to bounce back and get in the win column. So, good on him.”
Another bright spot on the offence was rookie running back Shaun Shivers who finished with 163 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown to put them ahead 14-7 in the second quarter. It would have been an even greater night for him had he not lost a fumble on the one-yard line with a chance to put the game away in the late stages.
“Bad ball, man. I know my mother will be calling me about that,” the running back said with a laugh.
Special Teams Turning Points
Much like last week’s opening half began to turn on an Argonauts punt return touchdown, this time it was the Lions’ special teams units turning the tide. With the home side up 14-10 in the second quarter, David Cote’s field goal attempt was blocked by Woody Baron and fell into the arms of Jalon Edwards-Cooper who returned it 63 yards for a major. It was the turn of events Rick Campbell’s squad needed after an inconsistent outing by the offence up to that point.
Moments later, a Chandler Worthy punt return fumble was scooped by Amir Siddiqi on the Alouettes’ side of the field. That miscue led to a Sean Whyte Field goal which helped put the Lions up 24-13 at the break. For a special teams unit that was under much scrutiny heading into this season, contributing to those points had to feel great.
Edwards-Cooper was being evaluated post-game after suffering a rib injury not too long before halftime.
CFL sack leader Mathieu Betts took down Cody Fajardo twice, bringing his total to nine on the season. Campbell was complimentary of number 90 for his continued dominance up front.
“It’s always it’s always good. It’s always fun to watch guys that work really hard and he has such a high motor in practice and in games that I always like when that translates for guys and they get really great recognition. He’s a good player that he plays full speed all the time and he got a sack tonight on a three-man rush. You can get home when they’re rushing three guys, that’s a great way to play defence.”
After Montreal answered the Lions’ first score with a touchdown of their own, all they would manage was four field goals.
7– total sack number for the Lions defence on Fajardo.
80.7- completion percentage for Adams Jr. in the win.
136– yards from scrimmage for Shivers out of the backfield. Shivers was also the club’s leader with 73 receiving yards.
351- net offence for the victorious Lions.
17-3- the Lions’ home record against Montreal since the year 2000.
The Lions will now head into their first bye week of 2023 before returning to practice one week from Monday. They are back home to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday, July 22 at 4:00 pm. Secure your tickets HERE.