Lions edge Stampeders 31-29 in OT in debut of quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.

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CALGARY — Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.'s first start as a B.C. Lion was a memorable one.

Adams threw for 294 yards, rushed for 32, and engineered a 31-29 overtime win over the host Calgary Stampeders on Saturday.

Acquired from the Montreal Alouettes in an Aug. 31 trade, Adams didn't throw any touchdown passes for the Lions, but he didn't throw any interceptions either.

"It means so much. It means a lot," Adams said. "I've been through a lot. Roller-coaster type of year. I had a bad practice on day one and the guys still stayed with me. We fought throughout the night."

James Butler scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, including one in overtime.

The Lions (9-3) held onto second place in the CFL's West Division, two points up on the Stampeders (8-5) in third, and six points back of the front-running Winnipeg Blue Bombers (12-2).

The two-time defending Grey Cup champion Bombers lost for just the second time this season Saturday, falling 48-31 to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Adams' backup Antonio Pipkin scored a rushing touchdown and added a two-point convert in overtime Saturday.

B.C.'s Sean Whyte kicked field goals from 38, 30 and 14 yards in front of an announced 22,319 at McMahon Stadium.

Lions receiver Dominique Rhymes compiled 91 receiving yards to reach over 1,000 this season, and Bryan Burnham posted a 100-yard night.

B.C. improved to 2-0 against Calgary with a pair of narrow victories.

The Lions came from behind to win 41-40 at McMahon on Aug. 13 with quarterback Nathan Rourke under centre.

"I think you can understand how disappointing it is, especially where we are in the standings," Calgary linebacker Jameer Thurman said. "We've got to be better. Simple as that."

Rourke injuring his ankle the week after the win in Calgary precipitated the trade for Adams.

The two clubs meet again Saturday in Vancouver.

Jake Maier went 26 of 38 in passing for 301 yards and three touchdown throws, but he dropped to 2-2 in starts since supplanting Bo Levi Mitchell as Calgary's starting quarterback last month.

Maier threw touchdown passes to Malik Henry and Luther Hakunavanhu, and another to Jalen Philpot in OT.

Butler scored his second major of the game on B.C.'s opening overtime drive with an eight-yard carry.

Calgary's offside penalty gave B.C. a second chance at a two-point convert, which Pipkin converted with a two-yard dash.

Calgary countered with Maier throwing a four-yard touchdown throw to Philpot in the end zone.

The Stampeders challenged for pass interference following Maier's incompletion to Reggie Begelton for two points.

Officials ruling against it sealed another close victory for the Lions at McMahon.

"It's huge. I can't give our players enough credit for winning twice here in Calgary," B.C. head coach Rick Campbell said.

Calgary's Rene Paredes kicked field goals from 38, 37 and 13 yards, but was wide left on a 48-yard attempt with 23 seconds remaining in regulation time.

Calgary was hampered by 128 penalty yards to B.C.'s 87 in the game, with the ball in B.C.'s hands for 35 minutes, 28 seconds in the game.

"We've got to get off the field on second down," Thurman said. "Too many times, we had them on second and long and didn't get off. We've got to get the offence the ball."

Whyte's 14-yard field goal put the Lions up by a converted touchdown with five minutes remaining in the game.

Calgary drew even with two minutes to go when Maier found an all-alone Hakunavanhu in the end zone with an eight-yard throw.

Maier navigated Calgary's offence to the 48-yard line in the final minute for a Paredes attempt, which he missed.

Calgary also didn't convert a first down from 22 yards out into a major early in the fourth quarter.

The Stampeders settled for a Paredes 13-yard chip shot to trail by four points.

Pipkin's one-yard plunge late in the third quarter spotted the Lions a 20-13 lead.

Calgary's unnecessary roughness and pass interference penalties accelerated B.C.'s march to the Stampeders' doorstep.

Pipkin scored on his third attempt after he was twice repelled by Calgary's defence.

Whyte's 30-yard field goal early in the second half drew the Lions even at 13-13.

With B.C. threatening from Calgary's 21-yard line late in the second, Stampeder linebacker Cameron Judged hunted down a scrambling Adams, forced a fumble and collected his league-leading fifth recovery this season.

A Paredes' 37-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the first half gave the hosts a 13-10 lead heading into the third quarter.

Maier and Henry combined on a 77-yard touchdown early in the second.

Henry outsprinting coverage downfield hauled in an over-the-shoulder catch and headed for the end zone for his eighth touchdown this season.

B.C. exploited Calgary's 35 yards in penalties over the game's first six possessions.

The visitors turned advantageous field position into a touchdown on their opening drive with Butler scoring on a 10-yard run.

The two clubs then traded 38-yard field goals for the Lions to lead 10-3 after one quarter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2022.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press