The BC Lions are back in the win column after delivering a knockout punch to the rival Calgary Stampeders on a steamy night at BC Place. Vernon Adams Jr. returned to the starting lineup with a bang, finishing 23/32 for 322 yards and four touchdown strikes- matching a career-high- as the Lions improved to 7-2 with a convincing 37-9 victory. The result dropped Calgary to 3-6 at the halfway point of 2023. Now for some game takes.
VA Is Back With Season-High Effort
Adams Jr. proved why he was at or near the top of all the major passing categories before this injury that kept him out of the starting lineup for two weeks as he threw first-half touchdowns to Alexander Hollins, Keon Hatcher and Taquan Mizzell while racking up 234 of those passing yards before the break.
He would be backed up after a late second-quarter interception to Micah Awe by the special teams as a Mathieu Betts punt block set up the major to Mizzell to put them up 27-6 at halftime. Adams Jr. found Lucky Whitehead for a fourth-quarter major to salt it away and appeared to be in fine shape despite limping off late after a hit from Brandon Dozier. All in all, a fine return effort for the Lions’ leader.
“Man, it felt good. It felt great,” said Adams Jr. after the win.
“You know, my injury wasn’t as bad as some of the other quarterbacks around the league I’ve been praying for every day as well. So, it just felt good to be back out there. I threw that interception right there in the second quarter, but yeah it felt great to get back out there and get a win.”
As far as the offence as a whole, they got back to the basics that propelled them to the team’s hot start to the season: good protection allowing the ability to spread the ball around to their elite group of receivers while also getting Mizzell involved out of the backfield. On this night, they would score 20 points over their first four offensive series. Adams Jr. was also able to establish a major connection with Hatcher who racked up a career-best 170 yards on nine catches.
“We had a great week of practice, man and he had a lot of plays in the game plan this week,” explained Adams Jr. on Hatcher’s night.
“Still a few we probably left out there, he could have gotten at least probably like 200 (yards). So, I’m just excited to be back. To have a guy like him back especially, you know, when Rhymes is down, someone else has to step up and he did a great job tonight. All the guys did a great job. So, I’m just happy for this team.”
“(It) feels good to be able to go out there and make plays for my team. I always want more. That’s how I am, I always want more. I feel good though, good game. It’s time to go on to next week,” said Hatcher on his career night.
Number 4 also had glowing reviews for how Adams Jr. conducted himself:
“It’s always great to have your leader back and he came out there, balled, and did his thing. No hiccups, for real. I think most people thought he would come out a little hesitant and a little rusty but VA is VA. He came out there and Big Play VA made big plays for us. It was a good night.”
Defensive Bounce Back
It may not have looked like a dominant performance on paper, but the defence delivered a nice rebound from last week’s humbling in Winnipeg. They allowed only nine points on three Rene Paredes field goals and kept Jake Maier at bay as the Calgary quarterback only completed 17 passes for 131 yards. It looked like almost a carbon copy of last November’s Western Semi-Final performance. Rick Campbell was impressed with the way they responded.
“We’re really tough when we don’t give up big chunks,” said the head coach.
“And they played for 60 minutes, so credit to them. Calgary is a good team. They have really good coaches and really good players. For our defence to do that, I’m really proud of them to stick with it for the whole 60 minutes and I know they were itching to get back out there and play a good game of football and they did.”
Garry Peters helped preserve the non-touchdown outing with a late interception while Amir Siddiqi recorded the unit’s lone sack. What a bounce back, indeed.
71.8– Adams Jr’s completion percentage in the win.
170- Hatcher’s yard total smashed his previous career high of 104 set in 2022.
7- the number of Lions who had at least one reception in this victory.
5- the Lions have now had five contests this season where they did not allow a touchdown by the opposition. The last touchdown allowed at home was on the opening series of the win over Montreal on the 9th of July, the lone major they have allowed in four home games in 2023.
4-0- the squad remains unbeaten at home in 2023.
It is back on the road for a tilt with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday, August 20 in the final tilt of this five-game stretch against Western opponents. The 4-5-0 Roughriders dropped a 41-12 decision in Montreal on Friday night. Kickoff next Sunday is 4:00 pm PT at Mosaic Stadium.