It was perhaps fitting that it was the final game of Hall of Fame weekend. That’s because the 9-4-0 BC Lions turned in a comeback of Hall of Fame proportions as they rallied from 19 down in the fourth quarter to stun Dustin Crum and the 3-10-0 Ottawa REDBLACKS 41-37 on Saturday night in front of 20,403 fans at BC Place.
This was officially tied for the largest fourth-quarter comeback in team history and the largest home comeback of any kind in team history and the second-best ever behind a 2004 win in Montreal where they came back from 20 points down. The victory, combined with a Blue Bombers loss in Hamilton earlier Saturday now has the Lions two points back of Winnipeg for top spot in the West, with a game in hand.
For history junkies, it was Damon Allen leading the Lions to a 19-point comeback in the final 15 minutes back in 1997 in a 34-33 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Now for some game takes.
TSN Turning Point: Enter Scary Terry
We’ve said it for a few weeks now: Terry Williams was due to take one back to the house. As it turns out, he was just waiting for the most opportune moment. We’ll jump right to 1:27 remaining and the Lions trailing 37-27 when the clutch REDBLACKS kicker Lewis Ward missed wide left on a 50-yard field goal attempt that would have been a final dagger.
Williams evaded defenders and returned the miss 120 yards to the house to put them within three points.
“Just watching him (Ward) the whole game, he’s been making them deep. So, I’ve always been ready,” Williams said.
“Making them deep, if he misses, take full advantage of it. My coaches believe in me to bring it out if it’s there. If it’s not, be patient. I’ve never been scared to make a play. And I’d bet on myself twice on Sunday if I have to.”
Then, after a timely two-and-out from the defence, Vernon Adams Jr. went to work and went for the win when a field goal to force overtime surely would have pleased those who hadn’t dashed for the exits.
The quarterback, battling right to the end after being evaluated for a head injury and throwing three interceptions that led to 14 Ottawa points, engineered a four-play, 54-yard scoring drive – aided by another solid Williams return and a roughing the passer penalty- that culminated with the winning touchdown strike to Lucky Whitehead with 16 ticks remaining. A classic comeback for win number nine.
“These guys just got behind me and said, ‘VA, we’re rocking with you, regardless of what happens tonight. We’re brothers,'” said the winning quarterback.
“You don’t get that a lot. Some guys just kind of sit there and stare at you out of the corner of their eye and stuff like that but they were there for me. And I appreciate it more than anything.”
Adams Jr. finished the night 26/37 for 325 yards and three touchdowns against the three interceptions. It surely was a nice recovery after his interception to Douglas Coleman III gave the visitors the 19-point edge near the end of the third quarter.
The quarterback also got a glowing review from his head coach on how he stuck with it in this contest.
“The thing I like about VA: there are some quarterbacks when you get behind, they won’t throw the ball. They’ll eat it because they don’t want the stats to look bad and they don’t want people to talk about them and talk about all of the interceptions they threw but he doesn’t play for stats, he plays to win,” said Rick Campbell.
“So, I’m glad he keeps slinging it and keeps playing the game. When he was going out on the field, I told him we were probably going to have around 40 seconds, we’ll try and get in field goal range. I saw the look in his eyes it was like, ‘Field Goal? We’re going to try and get more.’ So, good on him and I’m glad he plays the game to win and not for the stats.”
MISSED FIELD GOAL RIGHT TO THE HOUSE 🏠
— BC LIONS (@BCLions) September 17, 2023
The offence and special teams will receive plenty of the glory, but hat tip to the defence for not allowing Crum and the REDBLACKS to salt it away before the winning score. It was Woody Baron with the sack on the final play of the game. Josh Woods recorded a first-quarter interception in his first start in place of the injured Bo Lokombo.
To his credit, Crum rushed for two Ottawa touchdowns while completing 19 of 30 passes for 230 yards. He would rush for 46 yards on nine carries.
1- the Lions’ magic number to lock down a playoff berth for a second straight year: one more win or one more loss by Calgary puts them into the dance.
23- the number of fourth-quarter points for the home side in this crazy come-from-behind battle. The deficit was still 16 with 2:22 left.
118- a season-high receiving yard total for Justin McInnis who also hauled in two touchdown catches. His second of the game put the Lions within ten before the Williams heroics.
19– the fourth-quarter deficit would prove to be the largest comeback in the final 15 minutes in team history.
8- the number of times Adams Jr. has eclipsed 300 passing yards in 2023 and it was the fifth straight outing overall.
4- turnovers committed by the Lions; the three interceptions and one on downs when they opted to avoid a field goal attempt deep in Ottawa territory when down 37-21. There will indeed be some matters to clean up after this contest.
26– Lion coaching victories for Campbell. With this epic result, he passes Eagle Keys into seventh on the club’s all-time list. With five more he will match Dave Ritchie.
The Lions visit the resurgent Edmonton Elks (4-10-0) night Friday night. Led by Canadian quarterback Tre Ford, Edmonton has won four out of five contests after starting 0-9. Kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium is 6:30 pm Pacific Time.