Calgary Stampeders earn Western semifinal home date with win over BC Lions

The Calgary Stampeders punched their ticket for a home playoff date next week with a 21-16 win over the BC Lions on Saturday night at BC Place.

After the Saskatchewan Roughriders locked themselves as the top seed in the West Division with their win over the Edmonton Eskimos earlier in the day, the Calgary Stampeders rode into Vancouver to take on the BC Lions in either team’s final game of the regular season.

On their opening drive, Calgary was forced to settle for a field goal after a pass knockdown on second down stalled their offensive progress. Rene Paredes split the uprights from 28 yards out.

As the Stamps looked to put themselves ahead by two scores on their ensuing offensive drive, the Lions defence stepped up. This time, their hands stuck to the ball as TJ Lee hauled in the interception on the goal line for his fourth pick of the year.

Paredes kicked another field goal before Lions’ Sergio Castillo got his club on the board with a 34-yard kick of his own.

When the first 30 minutes was all said and done, Paredes put in a solid leg day as he booted a perfect four for four with a 44 yarder marking his longest. All of the first-half points were scored on special teams, including a safety conceded by Castillo.

Come halftime, Calgary held an 11-point lead over the Lions with the scoreboard at BC Place reading 14-3.

Offensively, Calgary had the yardage game in their favour with 217 yards. Meanwhile, the Stamps defence held the Lions to just 79 yards in the first half.

Recently-acquired Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge was put in by the Lions for the second half.

While the change at quarterback didn’t offer an initial spark, a fake-punt run by Brandon Rutley woke the Lions up as his 36-yard gain put BC inside the red zone. A pass interference call on Calgary’s Lorenzo Jerome inched the Lions even closer, leading to an O’Brien plunge from one yard out.

The first major scored in the game narrowed Calgary’s lead to just four points with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, after the ball jumped back and forth between possessions, Mitchell and the Stampeders were able to retain their 11-point lead from earlier in the game. The reigning-MOP connected with Hergy Mayala for a nine-yard touchdown.

Late in the fourth quarter, John White eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the season. It’s the first time in his six-year career he’s done so. The following play, Bridge found Bryan Burnham for a score, narrowing the Stamps lead to five.

With the final minutes winding down, the Stampeders put the nail in the coffin after Dexter McCoil jumped a route and came down with the Stamps’ second interception, fourth turnover of the night.

The Stampeders will look to prepare themselves for next week’s Western Division Semi-Final against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. As for the Lions, their season is now done after posting a 5-13 record and finishing last in the West Division.

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