By Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and their travelling fans, erupted in cheers as B.C. Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. tried one last deep throw in overtime, only to see it fall incomplete.
The cheers were the culmination of a late comeback as the Bombers stormed back to beat the Lions 34-26 in overtime on Friday, despite trailing for nearly the entire game.
Zach Collaros went 31 of 41, throwing 389 yards and two touchdowns for Winnipeg (12-4) in the close win.
Running back Brady Oliveira punched in the winning touchdown for the Blue Bombers in overtime, with receiver Kenny Lawler adding the two-point conversion.
“When you sign up for this game, if you want the highs of winning and want to feel the you want that elation, then you also sign up for moments like this,” said Lions head coach Rick Campbell. “It’s tough, it hurts. I’m glad it hurts (our players) really badly because they care.”
Winnipeg pulled within three with just over two minutes left in the game. The Lions then turned the ball over on downs less than a minute later to set the Bombers up for a 37-yard drive from their own 53-yard line to set up overtime.
“We can’t give up a 10-point lead like that and the defence is playing good, giving us the ball back to back. We’ve got to be better as an offence,” said Adams after the game.
Lions receiver Dominique Rhymes looked like he could clinch the win for B.C. in the dying seconds of the game as he surged forward into open field, but was dragged down at the five yard line as the game clock expired.
“He wasn’t too happy with himself. We just have to love on each other, be there for each other and pick each other up,” said Adams. “We didn’t lose the game because of that play.”
The Lions (11-5) controlled the opening quarter, with backup quarterback Dom Davis scoring a touchdown from one yard out to seal an 11-play, 86-yard drive as B.C. scored on its first three possessions of the game.
Adams went 19 of 33, throwing 352 yards and one touchdown for B.C. in the loss.
But the Lions only had 100 passing yards in the second half as their high-flying offence sputtered.
“We definitely weren’t clicking,” said Adams. “I don’t know what happened. We cant do that to a good team like that.”
The Bombers came to life in the second quarter, with Collaros leading a touchdown drive spanning three plays and 60 yards to allow Janarion Grant to score Winnipeg’s first touchdown of the game and bring the game within 10 points.
That pressure continued in the second half as Collaros orchestrated two field goal drives to open the second half and the Lions offence faltered.
Oliveira began finding more gaps in the Lions’ defensive line as well as playing as a big bodied receiver.
The comeback was briefly interrupted by B.C.’s Mathieu Betts’s 16th sack of the season to take back the momentum back, followed later by Woody Baron sacking the veteran quarterback with Sione Teuhema recovering the fumble to set up a Lions field goal.
“The defence came up with two back-to-back strip sack and we got to help them out as an offence,” said Adams.
B.C.’s players and coaching staff had talked during the week of looking for revenge after a blowout loss the last time the two teams faced off.
Now, said Adams, the focus is on moving on.
“It’s tough, but we’ve got to be there for each other. We can’t point fingers at each other,” he said.
NEXT UP: The B.C. Lions will head to Hamilton to take on the Tiger-Cats on Oct. 13. The Bombers will play host to the Edmonton Elks on Oct. 21.