Their opponent had everything to play for, and that was evident for the full 60 minutes. The 12-6-0 BC Lions wrapped up their regular season with a rather lacklustre performance and 41-16 loss to the 6-11-0 Calgary Stampeders on Friday night before 22,537 fans at Save-On-Foods Field at BC Place.
The result assures the Lions of a second-place finish in the West and an appearance at home in the Western Semi-Final on Saturday, November 4.
The Stampeders meanwhile remain in control of the division’s final playoff spot and can lock up a return to the West Coast that day with a Saskatchewan loss to Toronto on Saturday or by beating Winnipeg next week at home. Now for some game takes.
Goal Line Turnover Sets Tone
It was a mistake-filled first half for the home side but none would prove bigger than a Dom Davis fumble inside the Calgary 1-yard line with the score 10-0 for the Stamps. It was a gaff that would be too large to overcome as Jake Maier then responded with a 109-yard touchdown drive- partially aided by two penalties- and the subsequent ejection of Lions defensive lineman Sione Teuhema- to put them ahead by 17.
That was pretty much a 14-point swing and out the Lions behind the eight-ball before the break. Calgary’s other opening-half touchdown came after a Vernon Adams Jr. interception to Kobe Williams.
The Lions’ starter was pulled at halftime in a precautionary move. There was no aggravation of the knee injury suffered last week in Hamilton.
“It was the result of how the game went. I didn’t want him to be a sitting duck back there,” explained head coach Rick Campbell.
“We had two good drives to finish the half. We should have scored when we were down there. We fumble on the one-yard line and then we got a field goal the next time, I think he was feeling good. He was in a good place and I didn’t want him in there when we were down. I want him to be the hero in 15 days.”
Dane Evans played the final 30 minutes and was able to engineer a pair of touchdown drives with JaQuan Hardy and Jevon Cottoy finding the end zone. In between, there were interceptions thrown to Cameron Judge, Nick Statz and Micah Awe (on a two-point attempt after the McInnis score) as the Stampeder defence played opportunistic football all night. On offence, they racked up 213 yards on the ground while Maier was limited to 123 passing yards.
Adams Jr. said he had no regrets about giving it a go, despite the lingering questions about his knee.
“I wanted to get those reps. You know, we lost. It sucks. I’ve never liked losing, none of us do. You’ve just got to get the reps., get out there and move forward from it,” said the Adams.
“We know we’ve got to come to work. We know we can’t play like that in November. We’ll come watch it, get better from it, learn from it, and start faster the next time we play.”
That’s the silver lining in all of this. It doesn’t define another successful Lion season, one in which they win 12 games for a second straight year. Ultimately, this team was going to be judged on how it performed in the playoffs.
“I don’t think urgency will be a question mark in the playoff game,” added Campbell.
“Who knows? We’ll probably see these guys again. Who knows? We’ll see what happens in these last two weeks in the CFL.”
Campbell also noted that fixing the short yardage problems is the number one item listed on his whiteboard as the squad has an extra week to prepare for the playoff tilt two weeks from Saturday.
Key Numbers (And Milestones)
18- sacks on the season for Mathieu Betts who broke the single-season Canadian record previously held by Lion legend Brent Johnson and former Blue Bomber Jamaal Westermann. Betts achieved the milestone in the second quarter right before the Teuhema infractions extended Calgary’s long drive.
101- defensive tackles in 2023 for Ben Hladik. He is the first Canadian Lion to ever hit the century mark and the fourth in league history.
108– a game-high in receiving yards for McInnis who took the spot of Keon Hatcher after it was deemed Hatcher’s hamstring injury wouldn’t allow him to start.
213– rushing yards for the Stampeders with 105 of those going to Peyton Logan and another 88 to Ka’Deem Carey. That will be an area to focus on should these teams meet again in two weeks.
24- Stampeder points off Lion turnovers: two interceptions and the late second-quarter fumble.
117- penalty yards for the Lions on ten infractions. Not the recipe for success.
The Lions head into their third bye week to wrap up the regular season before returning home for the Western Semi-Final on Saturday, November 4 at 3:30 pm. Secure your playoff tickets HERE.