Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. had his biggest game yet in a B.C. Lions jersey Friday night, propelling the host team to a 34-19 victory over the ailing Ottawa Redblacks.
Adams threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns — including his first for the Lions (10-4) — and completed 17-of-21 attempts despite being sacked five times.
Antonio Pipkin muscled in two more majors for a B.C. side that amassed 455 yards of offence across the game.
It was another rough outing for the Redblacks (3-11) who repeatedly found their way into Lions’ territory only to see their final attempts stymied.
Ottawa QB Nick Arbuckle threw for 363 yards, a touchdown and an interception as his team dropped its third straight outing. He connected on 27-of-36 attempts and was sacked once.
Kicker Lewis Ward was responsible for the majority of the Redblacks’ points, making four-of-five field goal attempts, including a 47-yard kick.
B.C. jumped out to an early lead Friday night and steadily accumulated points while holding Ottawa out of the end zone. The Redblacks finally broke through with less than two minutes on the game clock.
Arbuckle capped a nine-play scoring drive with a seven-yard toss to Tevaun Smith, who dashed two yards in for the major. A successful convert by Ward cut Ottawa’s deficit to 34-19.
The home side’s defence got its first interception in three games halfway through the final frame when Gary Peters picked off an Arbuckle pass intended for Smith.
B.C. struggled to make use of the possession and ultimately punted.
The Lions increased their advantage to 34-12 midway through the fourth when Pipkin ran in a quarterback sneak for his second TD of the night.
The third quarter ended with B.C. up 27-12 after the two sides exchanged field goals.
Ward made 47- and 20-yard attempts and Whyte sent an 11-yard kick through the goalposts.
The Lions lost a key piece early in the third when receiver Lucky Whitehead was taken down along the goal line and suffered an ankle injury. The speedster lay on the field for several minutes before being slowly helped off by a pair of trainers.
After receiving treatment, Whitehead briefly returned in the fourth before taking off his pads and sitting on the sidelines.
There were just seconds left in the first half when Adams sailed a 34-yard pass to Hatcher, putting B.C. in field goal position. Whyte made the 43-yard kick and the Lions went into the locker room up 24-6.
The final minutes of the second quarter appeared promising for the Redblacks, with the Lions taking a pair of careless penalties that gave the visitors a first down at the B.C. 31-yard line.
Arbuckle capitalized, firing a 19-yard pass to Justin Hardy before Ottawa took a 10-yard holding penalty. Ward capped the drive with a 22-yard field goal to make it 21-6.
Pipkin punched in the Lions’ third TD of the night earlier in the quarter.
Adams started things off with a 26-yard bullet to Lucky Whitehead, then added a 35-yard throw to Dominique Rhymes that gave B.C. a first-and-goal. The Redblacks stopped the first attempt but on the second down, Pipkin went for a quick rush and stretched into the end zone for the major.
The Lions were already up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.
With about two minutes to go, Adams found Rhymes along the sideline with a 40-yard pass, then followed it up with a short toss to Butler. The running back rushed 15 yards, the final few with Ottawa’s Brandin Dandridge draped across his body as Butler stepped over the goal line.
The Lions celebrated by doing the worm.
B.C.’s defence struggled to contain Ottawa at times in the first and the Redblacks got a first down deep in Lions’ territory midway through the quarter.
Some defensive pressure and an offensive procedural penalty prevented the visitors from entering the red zone, though. Lewis Ward instead kicked a 12-yard field goal to get Ottawa on the board and cut B.C.’s lead to 7-3 with about five minutes to go in the opening frame.
The Lions rushed for seven straight plays on their opening possession, including a 24-yard dash by Adams. The QB capped the drive with a 13-yard toss to Keon Hatcher in the end zone, marking his first touchdown throw for B.C.
The club acquired the veteran QB from the Montreal Alouettes at the end of August after Canadian star Nathan Rourke underwent surgery for a foot injury.
The Lions will be back in action on Oct. 8 when they visit the East Division-leading Toronto Argonauts. The Redblacks will take on the Alouettes in Montreal on Oct. 10.
NOTES: Despite the loss, Ottawa remains in playoff contention. The club still has two games to play against Montreal and if they win both and reach 7-11 on the season, they would hold the tiebreaker over the Alouettes … Players on both sides wore orange tape for Truth and Reconciliation Day. The Lions also wore an Indigenous-themed logo designed by Kwakwaka’wakw/Tlingit artist Corrine Hunt on their helmets.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
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