HAMILTON – Coming to Tim Hortons Field from the west coast, the BC Lions spoiled Bo Levi Mitchell‘s home debut as they defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-30.
Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 296 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the win while Keon Hatcher led BC in receiving with 92 yards and Alexander Hollins caught seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Mitchell threw for 135 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the loss, while Matthew Shiltz threw for 180 yards and a touchdown while Tim White led the receiving corps with 112 yards and two touchdowns.
The visitors took no time to make noise in the first quarter as the Lions were the first team to get on the board, as Sean Whyte successfully kicked his 46th field goal of the season to take the lead.
BC’s defence would also be on their toes looking to make a big play at any moment, and a pick-six interception by Josh Woods for 46 yards on the first play of the second quarter proved just that.
On the next drive the Ticats had an answer, as Mitchell found one of his reliable targets in White for 21 yards to move downfield before a roughing the passer penalty put the Ticats in perfect field positions on the Lions’ eight-yard line.
Mitchell was able to find Godwin down the middle for five yards and put Hamilton on the board.
The Lions used up six minutes of clock to answer with a touchdown of their own, as Hollins made multiple big plays including snatching the ball for a first down and 12 yards to keep drive alive at the Hamilton five-yard line.
Adams Jr. was able to throw to Dominique Rhymes, coming off a game in which he pulled down five catches for 107 yards, who circled into the end zone with open space in the end zone for a touchdown to extend the Lions lead.
With Mitchell wanting to make an impact in his home debut, he found White for a 21-yard catch to move to midfield, before using a combination of White, Godwin and Kiondre Smith to move the chains.
Once a pass interference play put the Ticats on the Lions’ 11-yard line, Mitchell connected with White once again, this time for a touchdown, marking White’s seventh touchdown of the season.
As the Ticats fought back and scored on their final two drives of the half, Whyte and the Lions kicked a 36-yard field goal to end the half with a six-point lead.
Opening up the second half, Matthew Shiltz took the field in place of Mitchell after a penalty gave the Ticats a fresh set of downs, and Shiltz had no delays in finding his rhythm as he found White for his second touchdown of the night, a seven-yard score, and Hamilton’s first lead of the game.
A 49-yard kickoff return by Terry Williams put BC in field position to score a 42-yard field goal, allowing them to take the lead back despite momentum on Hamilton’s side from their hot start to the half.
The Ticats continued to move downfield, and while unable to score once again, a 27-yard Marc Liegghio closed out the third quarter with optimism heading into the final frame of action.
Kicking off the fourth quarter with possession, Adams Jr. found Cottoy for 16 yards to get down to the Hamilton five-yard line before connecting with Hollins for a score to take the lead back.
With Hamilton in position to score once again, Matthew Betts saved a score and kept the Lions ahead with his 17th sack on the season, and the Ticats opted for another field goal to put points on the board, with Liegghio successfully putting a 30-yard attempt through the uprights.
Looking like the Lions were going to extend their lead to double digits, a throw from Adams Jr. on a play where he was injured was intercepted by Dexter Lawson Jr. in the end zone that was taken 85 yards before being moved back due to an illegal blocking penalty.
Needing a score to keep their hopes for a second seed in the playoffs alive, Liegghio hit a 48-yard field goal off the upright and in, leaving a tie game with less than 60 seconds remaining.
With one second left on the clock, Whyte kicked a 48-yard field goal attempt for the win, securing victory after a back-and-forth game.
Hamilton will rest in Week 20 before they head on the road to face Montreal, while the Lions head home to host the Calgary Stampeders during Week 20 action on Friday, Oct. 20 at 10:00 p.m. EDT at BC Place.