Lions 37, Elks 28: B.C. heading back to the playoffs

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“Win pretty, win ugly, just win.”

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The B.C. Lions did plenty of the former early in the season, but the latter has reared its buck-toothed smile in recent weeks.

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On Friday, they looked pretty before the makeup washed off under a withering shower of turnovers — including a 58-yard pick six —before they held on for a 37-28 win over the Edmonton Elks at Commonwealth Stadium.

It was no Venus de Milo performance, and more in line with Venus Williams’ famous quote. But it was vital, clinching a playoff berth for B.C. for the second straight year, and moved them to 10-4 alongside the West-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Lions QB Vernon Adams Jr. connected on nine of his first 12 passes, but two of them were interceptions. Elks DB Kai Gray broke on a late throw in the first quarter and took it 58 yards for Edmonton’s first points against B.C. this season. He was also picked off by Darius Bratton in the second quarter, and a Taquan Mizzell fumble was also converted into points by Edmonton (4-11).

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“It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done,” Adams said to the TV cameras as the game ended. He had 265 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-26 passing.

Elks QB Tre Ford was held in check, sort of, going 20-of-26 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t manage a long run until his final drive, when he had rushes of 20 and 12 yards, and finished with 43, while getting sacked seven times.

Running back Kevin Brown, who came in to the game with 318 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games, was sitting at negative yardage after the first half before finishing with 18 yards.

Mizzell had his best game in his short Lions tenure, banking his second 100-yard outing of the season with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. His best was a 48-yard dash that snapped the Lions out of a second-half slump — they’d had two drives for a combined -14 yards in the third quarter. It put BC in front, but the Elks didn’t roll over, breaking through for their first touchdown drive in seven series to pull within six points at the three-minute warming.

The Elks had 219 yards of net offence to B.C.’s 418.

Keon Hatcher was the leading pass-catcher for B.C. with 91 yards, while Justin McInnis caught his fifth touchdown — his third in two games. Jevon Cottoy chipped in with 88 yards, 57 of them coming on a touchdown catch and run in the second quarter.

Ford was supposed to be the running quarterback in the game, but it was Adams doing the most damage with his legs, picking up 54 yards on the ground. That included an 18-yard second-and-10 conversion late in the fourth quarter.

Mathieu Betts had two sacks, and four tackles, including a tackle for a loss.