By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Cheering and banging could be heard inside the visitors’ dressing room as the B.C. Lions celebrated a rare feat with a dominant 30-6 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday.
The last time a CFL West Division team beat the Blue Bombers at home was the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sept. 8, 2018.
“No West team has won it here since 2018, that’s amazing,” Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. said.
“Our defence for the second week in a row doesn’t give up a touchdown. They’re lights out, man. I’m so proud of those guys. They work so hard. They push us in practice.
“Offence, man, we’re good, too. We want to clean up some things and get better but everybody does, so I’m just happy for this team and just ready to keep moving forward.”
The Lions remain undefeated to start the season at 3-0 for the second straight year, something the club hasn’t done since 1994-95.
The victory followed B.C.’s 22-0 win over the Edmonton Elks last week.
Winnipeg went to 2-1 in front of 25,662 fans at IG Field. The Bombers had put up 87 points in their two earlier wins.
Adams completed 20 of 29 pass attempts for 237 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros, playing in his 100th career start, was 15-of-26 passing for 191 yards with one interception. He was sacked seven times, including three by defensive lineman Mathieu Betts.
Collaros was asked what went wrong.
“A lot of things,” he replied. “Give credit where it’s due. They played a great game. They were physical and they covered us up pretty well at the same time.
“Early on we had a few drives resulting in field goals and we’ve got to score touchdowns.”
The Lions got touchdowns on a one-yard plunge from backup quarterback Dominique Davis, a two-yard catch by Alexander Hollins and a 12-yard reception by Justin McInnis.
B.C. kicker Sean Whyte made field goals from 40, 33 and 22 yards and hit his three convert attempts.
Bombers placekicker Sergio Castillo was good on field goals from 37 and 21 yards.
The Lions led 7-3 after the first quarter, 17-6 at halftime and 23-6 after three quarters.
“They came here and beat us pretty good in front of our fans,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said.
“One thing that you’ve always got to think about is we let our fans down, too. But I think we’re all thinking the same thing. We didn’t play well enough to beat a good B.C. team.”
After Castillo got the Bombers on the scoreboard first with a 37-yard field goal at 4:43 of the first quarter, the Lions were helped to their first touchdown by Winnipeg pass-interference penalties.
The bonus yardage led to Davis’s TD at 7:36.
Whyte made it 10-3 with a 40-yard field goal five minutes into the second quarter.
The Bombers looked like they were on their way into the end zone late in the second, but Collaros was sacked on second down at B.C.’s nine-yard line by Lions defensive lineman Sione Teuhema.
Winnipeg lost five yards on the play and settled for Castillo’s 21-yarder with 49 seconds left in the half.
Adams didn’t waste time going back down the field. He connected with Lucky Whitehead for a 29-yard gain and finished the drive with a low two-yard touchdown pass to Hollins with two seconds remaining.
“That was an important sequence of the game,” Lions head coach Rick Campbell said. “Instead of 10-10, it’s 17-6.
“And I also thought coming out of the half being able to move the ball was important, too. There’s things you can point to in the game where they were trying to get the momentum and get back in it and our guys just wouldn’t let them and we always came up with the plays when we needed them.
“My favourite part about it as a coach is I thought it was a total team effort – offence, defence and special teams.”
Whyte had the third quarter’s only scoring with field goals from 33 and 22 yards out.
The Lions’ fortunes continued to shine when Collaros was intercepted by linebacker Ben Hladik, leading to McInnis’s score five minutes into the fourth quarter for the 30-6 lead.
DECISION TO PLAY
Winnipeg running back Brady Oliveira (thorax) was a game-time decision and he suited up, rushing 10 times for 52 yards.
The Bombers took 10 penalties for 104 yards, compared to B.C.’s five flags for 50 yards.
The Bombers travel to Montreal for a July 1 game against the Alouettes. The Lions take on the Argonauts in Toronto on July 3.