June 15, 2024

Lions celebrate sold out home opener with win over Stamps

Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca

VANCOUVER — Vernon Adams Jr. and the BC Lions put on a show in front of 53,788 fans present at BC Place to commemorate their home opener with a 26-17 win over the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday.

Adams Jr. completed touchdown passes to Alexander Hollins and Justin McInnis and even rushed one in himself to take a late lead in the fourth quarter that the Leos wouldn’t relinquish.

Linebacker Ben Hladik added an interception and kicker Sean Whyte converted both of his field goal attempts as BC kept Calgary out of the end zone in the final quarter to improve their record to 1-1.

Stampeders’ quarterback Jake Maier also enjoyed an efficient afternoon, throwing touchdown passes to Marken Michel and Reggie Begelton, but ultimately was unable to prevent his team from dropping to 1-1.

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The game started with both defences getting the best of the opposing offence and allowing nothing but punts. It was only halfway across the first quarter that the Stampeders found a way to break the stalemate with a seven-play 65-yard drive. Maier completed passes to Cole Tucker and Michel to march all the way to the Lions 10-yard line. From there he found Michel again on a slant to open the scoring at BC Place.

The clubs went on to exchange punts again before a no-yards penalty by Calgary set up the Lions at midfield. Adams Jr. and the offence were able to capitalize on it by scoring their first major of the game. The pivot moved the chain with his legs with an 11-yard rush before running back William Stanback did the same on a couple of runs. A pass-interference penalty moved the Lions further into Stampeders territory and the Leos pounced on the opportunity. Hollins caught a 14-yard slant and Adams Jr. scrambled to find a wide-open McInnis for the touchdown. The Stamps retained a 7-6 lead after a block on the extra point attempt.

The following drive featured Hladik intercepting a tipped pass to give BC excellent field position once again, but the home team was unable to make the most of it and had to settle for a rouge by punter Stefan Flintoft.

Maier redeemed himself in the next drive by leading another scoring drive for the visitors. The pivot completed six straight passes to lead the Red and White all the way to the three-yard line, but BC’s defence was able to raise the wall and force a short field goal by Rene Paredes.

A couple of drives later the Leos were back at it with Adams Jr. doing what he does bet, finding receivers down the field. The pivot connected with McInnis for 28 yards to set up first-and-10 from the 19-yard line. Two plays later he found Hollins against single coverage in the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the afternoon as the Leos went to halftime leading 14-10.

The second half began with the visitors mounting an 84-yard scoring drive. Maier completed all five of his passes, including a bomb to Dedrick Mills for 46 yards and another one in the end zone for Begelton to complete the march and put the Stamps ahead, 17-14 with 9:00 left in the third.

 

The Leos evened the score once more on a field goal by Whyte halfway through the quarter. The tie remained until Adams Jr. worked some deep passing magic again. With under 11 minutes left in the game, BC’s pivot found a streaking Ayden Eberhardt down the field for a 59-yard completion to set up first and goal, then rushed it in himself to put his team ahead once more. Another blocked extra point kept the lead 23-17 in the home team’s favour.

Calgary got the ball back later in the fourth quarter with a chance to put points on the board. Maier threw it deep to receiver Cole Tucker, who ended up drawing a pass-interference penalty that moved the chains across midfield. It looked like Calgary was going to be able to march into BC’s end zone, but a fumble by Mills gave the ball back to the home team with under four minutes left.

The Leos offence was able to run down most of the time remaining before setting up Whyte for a field goal that sealed the score.

BC announced that the crowd of 53,788 sets a new club record for home opener attendance, previously set on July 6, 1984 when 43,501 came through the turnstiles as the Lions opened their home campaign with a 44-10 win over Edmonton.

The Lions now travel to Winnipeg to face the Blue Bombers in Week 3 on Friday, June 21. The Stampeders meanwhile go on a bye before returning to action in Week 4 against the Bombers in Calgary.

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