THE MOJ: Vernon Adams Jr. continues to fire strikes as Lions win another

B.C. quarterback carves up Hamilton as he continues pile up gaudy passing numbers
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B.C.’s Vernon Adams Jr. looks downfield towards receiver Alexander Hollins during Sunday’s night’s game in Hamilton. Adams Jr. would throw for 383 yards in leading the Lions to a 44-28 win over the Tiger-Cats at Tim Horton’s Field. Steven Chang, BC Lions

The Vernon Adams Jr. show continued Sunday night in Hamilton as the visiting B.C. Lions knocked off the hometown Tiger-Cats 44-26 at Tim Horton Field.

The CFL’s leading passer continued to dissect opposing secondaries with ease as he went 26 for 36 passing for 383 yards and four touchdowns.

The Lions struck quickly when on the first drive Adams Jr. hit running back William Stanback on wide-open seam route for a 45-yard touchdown pass just 2:06 into the game.

Then on the next possession, Adams found receiver Justin McInnis on a five-yard strike to make it 14-0 at 5:59 of the first quarter. That combination struck again 1:25 into the second quarter on a seven-yard touchdown to make it 21-1 B.C.

Receiver Alexander Hollins joined the party when he caught a pass at the Hamilton 35 and raced to the end zone for a 69-yard major at 6:32 of the second quarter.

The Lions held a 31-8 lead at that point with Adams Jr. and Lions offense looking like they were going against air. By the time halftime rolled around, Adams Jr. had thrown for an astonishing 321 yards.

“Guys were hitting on all cylinders in the first half - offence, defence, special teams. I’m just putting it in the area of these receivers and they’re just making me look good. The o-line is giving me time. Stanback is being available for me downfield as well. It was a good game in the first half and we just want to finish better in the second,” Adams told BCLions.com after the win.

The running game also clutched up when needed as Stanback rushed for 82 yards on 14 carries.

He was particularly impressive in the fourth quarter after the Tiger-Cats had crept back to within two scores at 37-21.

When the Lions stopped the Tiger-Cats on a third-and-six at the B.C. 38, the Lions responded with a touchdown that ended any hopes of a miraculous Hamilton comeback. Stanback ran for 24 yards during the 11-play 72-yard scoring drive that culminated in the ex-Alouette capping it off with a three-yard touchdown.

“Hats off to the guys around me – continuously pushing me and keeping me going. We just try to strive for excellence as a whole unit. My guys up front opened some holes for me so I could have some success and VA put the ball where it needed to be. We came up with a big win tonight,” said Stanback.

The game did have its warts from a Lions perspective as quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and the Tiger-Cats offense did manage to gouge the Lions for 374 yards through the air. The caveat to that is that the main target for Mitchell was running back James Butler, who led Hamilton with nine catches for 108 yards. With B.C. playing softer coverages with a big lead, Mitchell kept Butler in the flat or on underneath crossing routes with 66 of those 108 yards coming off the catch.

Winning on the road is never easy in the CFL but on Sunday night the Lions made it look easy.

“Hamilton is a tough place to play with a tough environment. They have really good fans and they’re a good team. They’ve lost some close games, so to come in here and get ahead on them like that and then be able to finish it out, it’s a big deal. Any time you can cash in these wins early in the season, it’s a good thing,” said Lions head coach Rick Campbell.

OVERTIME

* Lions kicker Sean Whyte connected on field goals from 39, 28 and 35 yards to extend his streak to 32 consecutive attempts, which eclipses the club record 30 consecutive field goals that Paul McCallum hit during the 2011 season. With the three field goals, Whyte tied Calgary’s Rene Parades for third on the all-time consecutive field goal list. Ottawa’s Lewis Ward holds the record with 69 straight.

* Adams now has gone 169 passes without throwing an interception. With his 383-yard effort, he continues to lead the league in passing with 1,752 yards and is on pace for 6,307 yards. That would be the second-best total in club history behind Doug Flutie’s 6,619 yards in 1991.

* The Lions had a surprise visitor in the Hammer in former special-teams coordinator Dan Yankowsky, who made the trek to Hamilton from his Memphis, Tennessee home to see the Lions play. Yankowsky coached specials in 2021 and 2022 but then left the team during the middle of training camp in 2023 due to a family health matter. Campbell brought in ‘Yano’ during his post-game speech and he was given a rousing ovation from the team.

* The Lions had to battle through some injuries in the game as they lost defensive tackle Tibo Debaillie to a chest injury while receiver Jovon Cottoy was sidelined by a rib contusion. Debaillie was actually taken to hospital as a precaution but was able to fly home with the team after the game. Both players will be re-evaluated by medical personnel in Vancouver upon return.

* Next up for the Lions (4-1) is a visit from the undefeated Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-0), Saturday, July 13th at BC Place. The pre-game show will start at 3pm with kickoff at 4pm on CKNW 980.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for portdanielpress.

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