The B.C. Lions dug the hole too deep, left the comeback too late, and left Mosaic Field as 34-29 losers to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday night.
The home side jumped to an 18-point lead, and held the advantage four minutes into the fourth quarter, when the Leos came charging back.
But the Lions (7-3) couldn’t find the end zone on their final offensive series, getting two cracks from the Riders’ 23-yard line, with Keon Hatcher having a touchdown ball go off his fingers in the end zone. Sean Whyte kicked a 30-yard field goal to pull B.C. within two, but that was as close as they’d get.
Vernon Adams Jr. had 200 pass yards by halftime, then just eight in the third quarter, before exploding for 124 yards and two TDs in the fourth quarter. He finished the night 25-of-40 for 436 yards and three touchdowns, and did it practically on one leg, having injured it just before halftime. He also had one interception.
Jake Dolegala, making his first start of the year for Saskatchewan, was 18-of-29 for 239 yards and three touchdowns for the Riders (5-5), although he showed his inexperience on a time count violation with 1:24 left, giving the ball back to B.C.
The game started much like their first meeting in Week 7 at B.C. Place, with the Riders’ front dominating their opposite numbers on the Lions. On the second play of the game, Adams was sacked — the first of five on the night — and fumbled the ball. The Riders scored off the ensuing turnover.
It was a litany of penalties, head scratching play calls, turnovers and missed opportunities from there for the Lions. The road back was long, hard, and they nearly made it, but had no answer for the Riders’ pass rush when it mattered.
Alex Hollins and Lucky Whitehead both had their first triple-digit receiving games of the season for B.C.
Hollins had seven catches for 161 yards and a touchdown, while Whitehead had five for 122, including 78-yard touchdown catch.
Hatcher finished the game with 94 yards and a touchdown.