Montreal, QC- They hadn’t partaken in Labour Day Weekend action since 2015 but the BC Lions (8-4-0) made about eight years’ worth of memories in a thrilling 34-25 victory over the Montreal Alouettes (6-5-0) on Saturday night at Percival Molson Stadium. This result had it all. Big plays, highlight-reel catches along with a few head-scratching sequences. They’ll go back and work on what needs to be fixed but for now, they will enjoy the victory heading into a bye.
Now for some game takes from Matt Baker.
Defence Saves Day On Two Second Half Occasions
We’ll jump right to a key third-quarter sack by Sione Tehuema. The backdrop: Cody Fajardo and the Alouettes had marched down the field for an Austin Mack touchdown grab to go ahead 18-17 to begin the half. After a Lions two-and-out, the Alouettes looked poised to cash in again before Teuhema’s third sack of the night forced a missed field goal attempt to keep it 19-17. Vernon Adams Jr. went to work with a seven-play touchdown drive culminating with Keon Hatcher’s end zone grab to put the visitors ahead 24-19.
After the Alouettes had responded with a William Stanback touchdown run on the opening play of the final quarter, Adams Jr. and the Lions played from behind again and were lifted with a huge Lucky Whitehead catch which set up a Shaun Whyte field goal to put them ahead 27-25. The fun was just starting.
Montreal would later execute a fake punt to put them in position to go ahead before Quincy Mauger ripped an interception out of the hands of Austin Mack. A touchdown run by Taquan Mizzell provided the icing on the cake.
“That was a great team win. That’s the best way to put it right there, from the offence, defence to special teams. We played all four quarters out there,” Mauger said outside of a joyous Lion locker room.
As for his big interception that snapped a long takeaway drought for this proud defence, Mauger credits the week of preparation for making it happen.
“Alignment and assignment football right there,” he said.
“Me and Manny (Rugamba), we’ve been practising attacking the ball. Iron sharpens iron, so when watching film having Mack in that three spot and running that corner route, I had to make that play. Anytime the ball’s in the air, the DB’s mentality is to make that play. That’s exactly what happened right there.”
Veteran TJ Lee sealed the game with another interception as the clock was winding down. Bend but don’t break defence. The late Rich Stubler was no doubt smiling from up above.
VA Victorious in return
He downplayed it all week but you could tell this was special to Adams Jr. in his first start in Montreal against his old team. He established a connection once again with Alexander Hollins early on, hitting the playmaker for two first-half touchdowns.
The second major was a 62-yard bomb where Hollins was able to get behind a pair of defenders. That one put them ahead 17-6 before Montreal would rally for 12 unanswered points before the Lions’ defence took over. Adams Jr.’s third touchdown strike of the night went to Keon Hatcher in the third quarter.
“This was a great statement for us,” Adams Jr. said.
“Having two losses like you said, we came out here with great energy. That was the great focus, all during the week. We did it. Our defence made stops when they needed to, our offence, we drove the ball when we needed to, and our special teams took the field. It was a total team win.”
Added head coach Rick Campbell: “I’m super proud of the guys. Our spirit on the sideline, is more typical of what it is. I’m not sure we had that the last couple of weeks. That was the number one thing. I said you’ve got that and it just comes down to making plays. I think if you’re a fan, you love this game. More teams were making plays and we made more at the end that mattered and got it done.”
A classic Labour Day weekend affair goes the way of the Lions.
306– Adams Jr.’s passing yard total, yet another night where he cracks the 300-yard mark.
122- Lions’ rushing yard total: 68 for Mizzell and 54 for Adams Jr.
5- quarterback sacks for the Lions: two for Teuhema, one each for Mauger, Woody Baron and Ben Hladik.
17– quarterback hurries for the Lions’ front against Fajardo. 16 of them resulted in hits. That stat is courtesy of TSN’s Moe Khan.
25– career interceptions for Lee. He is now tied with Eric Carter and Ken Hinton for 10th on the club’s all-time list.
The Lions now head into their second of three regular season bye weeks before returning home to face the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Saturday, September 16 presented by Pepsi. Kickoff is 4:00 PM at Save-On-Foods Field at BC Place. Secure your tickets HERE. The 3-8-0 REDBLACKS are on a bye this weekend before hosting Hamilton next Friday evening.