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VANCOUVER — Vernon Adams Jr. and the BC Lions know that in the CFL you can never give up.
It seemed that everything was going wrong for BC’s pivot after he threw a pick-six that got the Ottawa REDBLACKS up by 19 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday at BC Place.
That was the case until returner Terry Williams delivered a 10-point swing play returning a missed field goal 120 yards for a score and the Lions defence forced a quick punt to send Adams Jr. back out trailing by three with under a minute left.
The signal-caller repaid his teammates by delivering when it mattered most. Adams Jr. hit receiver Justin McInnis for a chunk play before finding Lucky Whitehead in the end zone. The major pushed the Lions ahead 41-37 with 16 seconds to go and completed what was the longest comeback in franchise history.
“Guys were saying on the sideline ‘don’t give up’,” said Adams Jr. after the game. “They were saying that when we were still down two scores. You just never know, you have to play to that whistle blow at the end.”
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» Through the Lens: REDBLACKS at Lions
» Box Score: Ottawa at BC by the numbers
» Lions pull off miraculous comeback win against REDBLACKS
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BC’s pivot completed 27-of-36 passes for 325 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, adding another 45 yards as a runner.
The uneven performance by the quarterback looked like it wasn’t going to be enough to lift BC past a dangerous REDBLACKS team that made plays on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Dustin Crum went 19-of-30 for 233 yards and an interception, but added 46 yards and three majors on the ground, while the defence forced three picks, including one returned for a touchdown by Douglas Coleman III.
The visitors’ huge lead never made Williams stop believing his team could shock everyone.
“We always believed in our work, the coaches believed in us,” said the returner. “I’ve never been afraid to make a play and I’m never going to start.”
Head coach Rick Campbell has been around long enough to know that anything can happen in the final three minutes in the CFL, especially when you have one as good as Williams.
“You have to play this thing all the way to the end,” said Campbell. “When they were going to kick a field goal in your mind you’re thinking ’10-point play’. That’s what you try to sell your guys on. Because I think it’s the biggest mismatch play in pro football, NFL or CFL, you got a bunch of O-linemen trying to go run down a small returner.
“Anytime we kicked a long field goal earlier, we’re lucky we have a really good kicker, but you’re holding your breath because the guy gets started. You never know what’s going to happen. Good on Terry (Williams), you’re talking about a trade that was well worth it. He’s just a ball of energy and goes all the time.”
The win brought the Lions within two points of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who lost 29-23 in Week 15 to the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton. BC now heads to Edmonton to face the Elks on Friday, September 22, looking to tie the Bombers for first place in the division.