BC Lions earn gritty road win over Calgary Stampeders, keep playoff hopes alive

CALGARY — The BC Lions came out on top against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night with a 26-21 road victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. Wally Buono’s final regular season game at McMahon Stadium was a success, and the Leos are now 8-7 and just one game behind the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after picking up their fifth win in six games.

The Lions’ running game was bolstered by newly added running back Tyrell Sutton, and his impact was felt right away with two touchdowns in the first half. The 31-year-old battled his way for tough yardage all game long, finishing with 22 carries for 106 yards and the two scores.

Kicker Ty Long also put in a solid performance with four field goals on the night, including a career-long 52-yarder.

Calgary made the most of two key turnovers, with Bo Levi Mitchell throwing touchdown passes to Chris Matthews and Markeith Ambles after the Stamps recovered a muffed punt and intercepted Travis Lulay.

The Stamps grabbed momentum and cut BC’s lead down to just two points before the half, but The Lions’ defence stood strong down the stretch as the team held on for the key win.

 

The Leos struck first after back-to-back first down gains on the ground from Sutton helped set up a 40-yard field goal from Long. The Lions’ defence then quickly forced a Calgary punt, and the team added to their lead after an impressive 55-yard one-handed catch by Bryan Burnham put BC back in scoring range.

The Stamps’ top ranked defence held their ground once again, and the Lions had to settle for a 27-yard field goal to grab the early 6-0 lead.

Mitchell and the Stamps’ offence couldn’t find any room to maneuver against the Lions’ defence early on, and BC seized an opportunity when Calgary was forced to punt the ball again. Anthony Parker fielded the punt and accelerated his way into open field for an impressive 79-yard return, nearly scoring on the play before being knocked out of bounds by Stamps defensive back Patrick Levels.

Sutton finished off the drive with his first touchdown as a Lion, a tough three-yard run in between the tackles. Long added the extra point to give the Orange and Black a 13-0 lead.

The Stamps got on the board in the second quarter with a 38-yard field goal from Rene Paredes after running back William Langlais put the team in range with a 27-yard catch. Calgary added a single point later in the quarter to make the score 13-4 when a 72-yard punt from Rob Maver went out of the Lions’ end zone.

BC extended their lead once again when a 32-yard reception from Shaq Johnson helped set up Sutton’s second touchdown of the half. Sutton plowed across the goal line for the one-yard score, and Long added the extra point to give the Lions a 16-point lead with just over three minutes to go in the quarter.

But momentum began to shift after that when the Stamps forced a crucial special teams turnover, with Lions’ returner Ricky Collins muffing the punt in BC territory and Wynton McManis coming up with the key recovery for Calgary. Mitchell capitalized on the solid field position by finding Matthews on the very next play for a 17-yard touchdown in the left side of the end zone. Mitchell then connected with Ambles for a 3-yard strike on the two-point conversion to make it a 20-12 game.

Momentum continued to swing in Calgary’s direction when defensive back Tre Roberson came up with a big interception before the half. Roberson picked off Lulay’s throw and flashed major athleticism to return the ball 43 yards and give Calgary the ball in good position to score.

Mitchell made the most of the turnover right away with a 14-yard touchdown toss to Ambles on the next play, the first touchdown of Ambles’ CFL career. Calgary attempted to tie the game with another two-point conversion, but BC’s defence shut the door to give their team a 20-18 lead heading into half time.

Calgary started the second half off by grabbing their first lead of the game on a 35-yard field goal from Paredes. The kick was set up by a successful Stamps challenge for defensive pass interference on BC’s T.J. Lee while the defensive back was covering receiver Eric Rogers down the field.

But Calgary’s one-point lead was short-lived, as Long came through with a career-long 52-yard field goal to give BC a 23-21 lead two minutes later.

Lions defensive back Anthony Thompson got the ball for his team by leaping into the air and intercepting Mitchell, but Calgary’s defence refused to give up any ground and kept it a two-point game heading into the fourth quarter.

Long gave the Leos a 26-21 lead with a 39-yard field goal with under ten minutes to play, and BC’s defence held on from there to prevent the Stamps from mounting a comeback.

Week 19 will see the BC Lions host the Edmonton Eskimos next Friday, while the Calgary Stampeders will host the Saskatchewan Roughriders next Saturday.

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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