July 17th, 2024

Sean Whyte’s field goal in the dying seconds gives Lions a win over Elks

By Jim Morris, The Canadian Press on June 28, 2024.

B.C. Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) passes while avoiding a tackle by Edmonton Elks' Antonio Alfano (99) during the first half of a CFL football game, in Vancouver, on Thursday, June 27, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. says winning doesn’t need to be so hard for the B.C. Lions.

Sean Whyte kicked a 42-yard field goal in the dying seconds as the Lions battled from behind to defeat the Edmonton Elks 24-21 in a back-and-forth CFL game Thursday night.

“We’ve got to clean it up,” said Adams. “We’re way better than that.” We’ve got to make those plays early and not make such a tough game. It can be a little bit easier for us.”

Edmonton had tied the game 21-21 on a 52-yard Boris Bede field goal with just over a minute left to play.

The Lions took over the ball and their final drive was aided by a face-masking call against the Elks. Whyte calmly kicked the winning points for his 28th consecutive field goal.

Rick Campbell, B.C.’s head coach and co-general manager, said Whyte did the expected.

“The cool thing about Sean Whyte is you just totally expect him to make it and it’s not a big deal,” said Campbell. “But I know it’s a big deal. “He’s money in the bank. It’s comforting when you’re making decisions knowing that the odds are pretty good. Get him anywhere in field-goal range and he’s going to knock it through.”

Whyte also connected on kicks of 29 and 24 yards. Fullback Davie Mackie made up for an earlier fumble by scoring on a one-yard plunge late in the fourth quarter to give the Lions a 19-18 lead.

The B.C. drive was aided by an Edmonton pass interference call on the Elks’ five-yard line. Justin McInnis made a fingertip catch for a two-point convert to make the score 21-18.

“It shows the confidence the coaching staff has in me,” said Mackie. “It’s nice we got back in that situation and they had the trust to make the call again.”

The win improved the Lions’ record to 3-1. The Elks, playing just five days after losing in Toronto, dropped to 0-4. It was the third consecutive week Edmonton had lost a game by three points.

“Pretty damn tough,” said Chris Jones, Edmonton’s head coach and general manager. “It’s the first time I think I’ve ever lost a football game on the last play.”

Jones said his team is “in a hard sport” but saw positives despite the loss.

“We have to realize that we’re not very far away,” he said. “What we’re going to do is continue to dig and keep doing the things that we did to get out of wherever we came from.”

Adams, who completed 27 of 38 passes for 330 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, didn’t show the effects of the abdominal injury that caused him to miss practice Tuesday. Adams has thrown 103 passes without an interception.

The Lions have also gone three games not allowing a sack after giving up six in a season-opening loss to Toronto.

Adams believes the Lions can play better. “I’m just proud of these guys,” he said. “They just keep fighting . . . but I know we can be better, especially as an offence.”

Running back William Stanback also scored for B.C. on a five-yard pass, his first touchdown since joining the Lions as a free agent. Second-year receiver Ayden Eberhart had six catches for 78 yards. Edmonton quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson completed 19 of 30 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Slotback Kurleigh Gittens Jr. had a 21-yard touchdown catch for the Elks. Bede also kicked a 39-yard field goal. Punter Jake Julien added singles of 64 and 55 yards.

The Lions looked poised to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, driving to the Edmonton 10-yard line. Mackie tried to gain some extra yards on a third-and-one gamble but fumbled. Former Lion Loucheiz Purifoy recovered the ball. The Elks took over on their own four and the following drive was aided by two B.C. roughing penalties.

Bethel-Thompson led the Elks on a nine-play, 106-yard drive, putting them on the doorstep with a seven-yard rush. Backup quarterback Dakota Prukop scored on a one-yard plunge to give Edmonton an 18-13 lead with just over seven minutes remaining.

Bethel-Thompson’s two-point convert attempt was picked off in the end zone by cornerback Garry Peters. The Lions led 13-12 at halftime after a 29-yard Whyte field goal with 10 seconds left. The Lions’ drive was aided by an Edmonton penalty.

UP NEXT

Edmonton: The Elks host Ottawa on July 14.

B.C.: The Lions, who play one home game over the next eight weeks, are in Hamilton on July 7.

NOTES: The Elks last defeated the Lions at BC Place on Aug. 19, 2021. “¦The 36 points Edmonton scored in a 39-36 loss to Toronto last week was the most points by the Elks in a loss since they lost 45-37 to Ottawa on June 25, 2016. “¦ In their last eight games, the Lions have outscored the Elks 289-103.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2024.

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