VANCOUVER — Lucky Whitehead jumped into the stands, waved to a few young fans and passed the game-winning ball to his mother, who had been watching her son's magical comeback.
The touchdown, with 22 seconds left in the game, capped a 41-37 comeback win for the B.C. Lions over the Ottawa Redblacks on Saturday night.
B.C. (9-4) had trailed for the majority of the second half, with quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. throwing three interceptions — one that led to a touchdown drive and the other for a pick-six.
Adams finished the game 26 of 37, throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns with the three interceptions.
But he said he's grateful his offence never gave up on him, allowing him to orchestrate the game-winning drive after entering the fourth quarter trailing 37-18.
"These guys just got behind me. They said 'we rocking with you, regardless of what happens tonight, we're brothers,' and when they told me that, that meant a lot," Adams said.
"Some guys just sit there and just kind of stare at you from the corner of their eye, but they were there for me. I just appreciate it more than anything."
Kick returner Terry Williams caught a missed field goal from the Ottawa Redblacks (3-10) and returned it 120 yards for a touchdown to ignite the comeback with a minute-and-a-half left in the final quarter.
"My coaches believed in me to bring it out," he said. "I always believe in myself to be ready to make a play. I've never been scared to make a play and I'd bet on myself twice on Sunday if I have to."
It's a point B.C. head coach Rick Campbell said sets his team's quarterback apart from others.
"There's some quarterbacks when you get behind, they won't throw the ball. They'll eat it because they don't want the stats to look bad and they don't want people to talk about them and talk about all the interceptions they threw, but he doesn't play for stats. He plays to win."
Overcoming the 19-point deficit also set a new club record for fourth-quarter comebacks.
The Lions struggled to find a way to stop the Redblacks' run game in the first half as Devonte Williams racked up 63 yards, including a 17-yard gain that brought Ottawa into the red zone — resulting in a field goal.
"We talked in the locker room about getting our best fronts and stopping the run, and make sure we got the guys on the field that we want to cancel the run. We were losing the physical battle on all sides of the ball and they were making plays and we weren't," said Campbell about his team's performance in the first half.
Ottawa quarterback Dustin Crum rushed for three touchdowns, one of which included a five-yard scramble in the second half to punch it in for Ottawa. He finished the game 18 of 29 for 213 yards.
"I don't know if I got words for it to be honest," said Crum after the Redblacks dropped their seventh straight game.
"The past weeks I've said frustrated. Tonight we just let it slip. You can't let that happen. You've got to learn to win games and finish them off especially against good teams like B.C. It's just disappointing. We felt like we played well enough to pull it out but mistakes at the end kind of cost us."
The Redblacks host the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-7) in Ottawa on Friday, while the Lions travel to Edmonton to take on the surging Elks (4-10) on the same day.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2023.
Nick Wells, The Canadian Press