REDBLACKS, Lions meet for Saturday showdown in BC

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VANCOUVER — The BC Lions head to the nation’s capital to take on the Ottawa REDBLACKS to close out Saturday’s doubleheader.

The Lions were on a bye in Week 14, giving them plenty of opportunity to break down film and rest in preparation for the game.

For Ottawa, they’ll be focused on what they can control as their losing streak stretched to six games with their loss to Hamilton last week.

With 43 passing yards, Vernon Adams Jr. can surpass 3,000 for the season. Given he’s thrown for 300 or more in each of his last four games, including 455 in Week 11, he should have no issues surpassing the total.

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Helping him get there will be two of the leagues top receivers in Alexander Hollins and Keon Hatcher, who have a combined 1,699 receiving yards.

It’s a tall order for a REDBLACKS defence that’s given up 28 points per game over the course of their recent slide. Defensive backs Brandin Dandridge and Justin Howell will be relied upon heavily to handle the Lions talent downfield.

Adams Jr. says his team is keeping their goals simple with six games remaining on the schedule.

“We just want to win, that’s it,” Adams Jr. told reporters. “Just like everybody else. Six games left, a lot to get better at so we’re just going to keep working. I think we’re a pretty good team and when we’re hitting on all cylinders with great energy I think it’s tough to stop us.”

The Lions will likely focus on moving the ball in the air given they’re the worst at gaining yardage on the ground and the REDBLACKS are the second best at defending it. When they do hand the ball off it’ll go to Taquan Mizzell who has 587 yards on the season.

When he gets the ball in his hands and looks for holes, he’ll need to be aware of defensive linemen Bryce Carter and Lorenzo Mauldin, and linebacker Douglas Coleman forcing pressure.

Mauldin, a leader in the REDBLACKS locker room, says the message is clear heading into the final stretch of the regular season.

“We all have the same goal,” Mauldin told reporters. “Some teams are finishing and some teams aren’t. That’s our big message in the locker room, we just have to finish. We’re in the games, it’s not like we’re getting blown out in these games. We’re up one time and then we’re down another. We need to be up the entire game. Finishing will get us to where we need to be.”

On the offensive side of the football for Ottawa, quarterback Dustin Crum and running back Devonte Williams have been the spark plugs, primarily with their legs.

Williams put up 146 yards on 17 carries in their loss to Hamilton, giving him 556 on the season. Look down the leaderboard and you’ll see Crum and his 521 rush yards.

The Lions rank fourth against the run, allowing 92 yards per game thanks to a stiff defensive line and athletic linebackers. Mathieu Betts leads the CFL with 12 sacks and Ben Hladik has 58 defensive tackles. Both will need to be on high alert when Crum and Williams take off.

The REDBLACKS haven’t found near as much success in the air, averaging a league-low 207.9 yards.

Crum has thrown for five touchdowns and receiver Jaelon Acklin leads the team with 602 yards. Behind Acklin, Justin Hardy and Nate Behar should be where Crum looks next.

They’ll see more defensive playmakers in the Lions secondary, though, as Garry Peters and T.J. Lee both have a knack of knocking down passes and disrupting opposing pass games.

The Lions can keep up with the West Division leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a win.

It’ll take one of their best efforts yet for the REDBLACKS to snap their losing streak and stay in the East Division race.

Kickoff from BC Place is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. International and U.S. audiences can tune in on on CFL+ while Canadian viewers can watch on TSN/RDS.

– with files from BCLions.com and OttawaREDBLACKS.com

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