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B.C. Lions close out pre-season with dominant 26-9 victory over Elks

Leos open CFL regular season away to the Toronto Argonauts on June 9
B.C. Lions’ Stanley Berryhill III, top, is upended by Edmonton Elks kicker Jake Julien as he returns a punt during the first half of a pre-season CFL football game, in Vancouver, on Friday, May 31, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 116 yards and a touchdown and his B.C. Lions closed their pre-season with a decisive 26-9 home win over the Edmonton Elks on Friday.

Adams — B.C.’s starting quarterback — connected on 7 of 9 attempts before being swapped out for Jake Dolegala, who put up 118 passing yards with one TD and two interceptions. Chase Brice took over for the Lions late in the third quarter and finished with 81 passing yards.

Jarret Doege made good on 8 of 10 passing attempts for the Elks, contributing 66 yards and a touchdown before Edmonton turned to Malik Henry. The rookie QB hit 7 of his 15 attempts for 87 yards.

B.C. fielded the more veteran lineup and dominated the game both on the ground and in the air, amassing 315 passing yards to Edmonton’s 153 and 113 rushing yards compared to 44 for the visitors.

The Elks also struggled with discipline, taking 11 penalties for 107 yards.

Friday’s result gave B.C. a 1-1 split in their pre-season games, while Edmonton fell to 0-2 after dropping a one-point decision to the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week.

The Lions looked dominant from the start against the Elks with Adams sailing a 24-yard pass to Canadian slotback Justin McInnis less than three minutes into the game.

B.C. capped the opening drive with a touchdown when William Stanback muscled his way through traffic on the goal line for a two-yard strike.

Friday marked Stanback’s first game action with the Lions after signing as a free agent following a Grey Cup win with the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Edmonton responded by steadily working its way up the field on a series of short passes before Doege sent a 20-yard bomb to Dillon Mitchell in the end zone to level the score at 6-6 late in the first quarter.

The Lions pulled away before halftime, thanks in part to wide receiver Stanley Berryhill.

The 26-year-old Atlanta Falcons draft pick streaked up the field for a 29-yard punt return early in the second quarter, then dove to collect a 13-yard pass from Adams minutes later.

The quarterback capped the drive with a 19-yard toss to Alexander Hollins for a touchdown and kicker Sean Whyte hit the extra point to give B.C. a 13-6 cushion.

Dolegala replaced Adams midway through the second quarter and struggled to start, with Edmonton’s Kordell Jackson picking off his first pass of the night.

B.C. boosted its lead to 16-6 with a 21-yard field goal by Whyte.

The home side closed out the first half with another major when Dolegala sent an eight-yard pass to Terry Williams inches from the goal line. Elks offensive lineman Alex Hall tried to take the wide receiver down but Williams stayed on his feet and stepped into the end zone for the TD.

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Whyte converted on the extra point and the Lions went into the locker room up 23-6.

Edmonton made its way deep into B.C. territory midway through the third quarter, setting up for a first down deep in the Lions’ end, only to see their offence smothered.

The Elks responded minutes later when defensive back picked off Dolegala’s pass and returned it for 18 yards. Kicker Dean Faithful then made a 43-yard field goal to cut the Lions’ lead to 23-9.

B.C. made yet another quarterback change late in the third quarter, bringing Brice in for Dolegala.

The 26-year-old Appalachian State product pushed the ball up the field and Whyte booted in a 43-yard field goal to put the Lions up 26-9 in the opening minute of the final frame.


The Elks open their regular season on June 8 when they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Lions kick off their campaign with a visit to the Toronto Argonauts on June 9.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press