BC Lions secure home playoff date with win over Saskatchewan Roughriders

VANCOUVER — The BC Lions have added at least one more home game to their calendar after beating the Saskatchewan Roughriders 33-26 on Friday night.

The win moved BC to 11-4 and secured a home playoff date for the Leos who are now guaranteed a top-two finish in the West Division.

It was a dominant performance by BC’s offence with over 500 total net yards behind an explosive passing attack led by quarterback Vernon Adams Jr at the BC Place. The Lions held a 33-12 lead deep into the fourth quarter before two late touchdowns by Saskatchewan.

The veteran pivot threw for a CFL season-high 458 yards and a trio of majors in the winning effort. His scoring targets were receivers Keon Hatcher – who caught 10 balls for 172 yards and went over 1,000 on the season – and Alexander Hollins with 83 yards and two majors. Veteran Dominique Rhymes returned from injury and added 92 yards on five catches.

Kicker Sean Whyte made all four of his field goals for the Orange and Black and the defence added two interceptions with veterans Garry Peters and T.J. Lee.

Saskatchewan’s quarterback Jake Dolegala finished with 409 yards and two interceptions. The Riders added three scores on the ground, one by backup pivot Antonio Pipkin and two by running back Thomas Bertrand-Hudon as the team dropped to 6-9.

The Lions put together a strong showing on offence to start the game. Adams Jr. completed a couple of quick passes before finding receiver Jevon Cottoy wide open on the left sideline for a 46-yard gain. That set up first-and-goal from the six-yard line but Saskatchewan’s defence was able to force third down and a short field goal by Whyte made it 3-0 in favour of the home team.

Punter Adam Korsak added a single for the visitors with 5:46 left in the first quarter.

The next possession featured BC once again moving the ball into opponent territory, this time with a combination of Adams Jr.’s right arm and running back Taquan Mizzell‘s legs. The drive stalled at Saskatchewan’s 20-yard line and Whyte split the uprights for the second time to make it 6-0.

The hosts forced Dolegala and the Riders offence to punt again on their next possession and Adams Jr. got his team rolling for the third time in the game. The veteran threw a strike to  Hatcher for 37 yards before connecting with Rhymes for the first time since his return from injury for 23 more. The visitors were able to stop the march with a defensive back blitz that led to a sack by C.J. Reavis and in went Whyte again for his third field goal of the game. The veteran remained perfect on the night to extend the lead to 9-0 early in the second quarter.

Saskatchewan was putting together their best drive of the night before receiver Tevin Jones deflected a pass into the waiting hands of Peters for the first turnover of the game with 10:41 left in the half. The Lions were not able to capitalize on the takeaway as the Roughriders defence forced a quick two-and-out.

The Green and White’s offence came to life halfway through the second quarter. Dolegala completed two short passes for Frankie Hickson and Shawn Bane Jr. and the playmakers added yards after the catch to move the ball across midfield. Saskatchewan’s pivot then connect with Samuel Emilus for 32 yards all the way to BC’s two-yard line. Pipkin finished the 95-yard march with a two-yard major to cut the lead to one point with under four minutes before halftime.

Whyte continued his prolific night with a 50-yard boot and Saskatchewan responded with their own 50-yarder by kicker Brett Lauther to make it 12-11 with 58 seconds left.

That was enough time for Adams Jr. and the Lions offence to score their first touchdown of the game. BC’s pivot found a streaking Hatcher behind the Riders defence over the middle for a pitch and catch major that extended the lead to 19-11 going into the half.

The second half opened with both teams trading punts until Adams Jr. found a wide open Hollins on a busted coverage for his first passing major of the night and a 26-11 lead after the extra point by Whyte.

Two possessions later the home team and its passing offence were back at it. Rhymes gained 25 yards and receiver Lucky Whitehead added 26 more to quickly make it first-and-goal from the seven-yard line. From there it was Adams Jr. and Hollins connecting again for their second score of the game to go up 33-11 late in the third quarter.

Lauther missed a kick to open the fourth quarter while adding a rouge for the visitors.

Lee intercepted a pass from Dolegala in the end zone to stop a promising drive by the visitors with under five minutes left.

The Riders added a late touchdown with Bertrand-Hudon on a two-yard carry and recovered the ensuing onside kick before putting together another scoring march.

Dolegala guided his team all the way to BC’s two-yard and line and Bertrand-Hudon again broke the plane of goal for a touchdown with the clock showing 10 seconds left. The Lions recovered the onside kick to cap off the win.

Both teams warmed up in orange shirts before the game to honour to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

The Lions stay in Vancouver in Week 18 to host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday, October 6, in an important West Division matchup. The Riders meanwhile return to Saskatchewan to host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday, October 7.

Today's CFL is more than just our great game of football. It's fans sharing their excitement for what they see on the field, and what they experience off it. Stay up to date on all the non-stop action at CFL.ca.