August 20, 2023

Bakes’ Game Takes | BC 29 SSK 34

They nearly pulled off an incredible fourth-quarter comeback in a hostile environment, but it wasn’t to be as the BC Lions fell to 7-3-0 with a 34-29 defeat at the hands of the 5-5-0 Saskatchewan Roughriders on a windy night at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium. With the loss, the Lions drop to sole possession of second in the West Division, two points behind the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Now for some game takes after a wild and whacky affair.

Comeback Kids Come Up Just Short

Four turnovers and a couple of big completions by Saskatchewan quarterback Jake Dolegala were the catalysts as the home side jumped out to a 31-13 lead with just ten minutes to play. Vernon Adams Jr. and the visitors refused to say die as the Lions’ pivot, battling hard despite missing a series before halftime after getting his lower leg looked at, led long scoring drives that led to touchdowns from Keon Hatcher and Lucky Whitehead to get them within five.

Then with a chance to take the lead with under three minutes to play, Adams Jr. just missed an outstretched Hatcher in the corner of the end zone before settling for a field goal from Sean Whyte. It’s as close as they would come as they turned it over on downs when Adams Jr. was sacked on third down on their next opportunity before a Brett Lauther field goal rounded out the scoring.

Adams Jr. was stellar for the most part, finishing with 455 passing yards and three touchdown passes against one interception.

“It’s tough. We fought hard, but I can’t get going so late,” said the quarterback following the loss.

“That hurts, man. You hear the locker room, we’re frustrated. We’re all brothers, man and we’re going to get back to work. I can’t start so late. We start earlier, in the first half, we give ourselves a better chance.”

I’m proud of the way he (Adams) battled all the way to the end, I’m glad our team battled all the way to the end. We almost got it done and we came up just a little bit short,” added head coach Rick Campbell.

As for digging themselves the big hole, Campbell gave full credit to the opposition.

“They were making more plays than we were, especially in the first half and then we had to fight our way back in the game, which we did,” explained the head coach.

“In this league, you’ve got to be playing good football for 60 minutes in order to beat people. I think we showed signs today of playing good football but we didn’t get it done over the total 60 minutes and they beat us.

Added Adams Jr.: “It’s never over until it’s over. We had a chance there at the end. I missed a couple of throws, on that sack, I  could have probably could have made him miss or something. It was tough.”

Defence Vows To Be Better

They weren’t helped by a couple of short fields for Dolegala and the Riders to operate from, but this Lions’ defence had some trouble getting off the field and perhaps were a little unlucky after failing to haul in some balls that could have been intercepted. Dolegala finished 18/29 for 239 yards and three touchdowns while also being backed up by a couple of circus catches by his receivers.

Mathieu Betts had the Leos’ lone sack and is ready for the unit to improve, just like they’ve done coming off every loss this season.

“I’m excited for next week, we’ve had a lot of talk about playing Western opponents for five consecutive weeks. We’re playing a new opponent in Hamilton, I watched their game on Thursday. For us, it’s going to be about correcting what we did wrong in this game and coming out and playing well at BC Place next Saturday.”

Betts also battled through adversity, returning from a finger injury in the late stages. The defensive line was shorthanded for much of the night after Nathan Cherry injured his left knee early on. He will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Vancouver.

Key Numbers

455- a season-high in passing yards for Adams Jr. in the valiant comeback effort.

161- a career-high in receiving yards for Hollins who scored the first Lion major in the second quarter to give them a 10-7 lead.

122- a season-best for Whitehead with his late touchdown going for a 78-yard connection before Dom Davis was stopped on the two-point attempt that would have made it a three-point game.

465- the Lions’ net offence in this one.

17- total Riders’ points off of the four takeaways they forced in a crazy opening half: they got touchdowns after Adams Jr.’s fumble on the opening series, a 53-yard Lauther field goal after his interception to Jeremy Clark and a touchdown of Terry Williams’ fumble on a late second-quarter punt return.

Next Up

The squad is back home for a tilt with the 3-6-0 Hamilton Tiger-Cats this Saturday presented by World Vision. Kickoff at Save-On-Foods Field at BC Place is 4:00 pm. Join us for SuperHero Night as we pay tribute to first responders and armed forces. Tickets start at just $25 and can be purchased here. 

Matt Baker: