Stampeders in control of playoff destiny with win over BC Lions

VANCOUVER — The Calgary Stampeders are just one result away.

The Stamps kept control of their post-season destiny with a 41-16 win over the BC Lions on Friday at the BC Place.

Calgary will now be playoff bound if the Saskatchewan Roughriders lose to the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday or if they win their game in Week 21 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at McMahon Stadium.

The win was the result of an efficient performance on both sides of the ball. The Stampeders jumped to a 17-0 lead in the first half and never lost control of the game despite being on the road against a tough opponent.

Quarterback Jake Maier had an efficient outing with touchdown passes to receivers Luther Hakunavanhu and Reggie Begelton and backup pivot Tommy Stevens scored twice on the ground as the Stampeders improved to 6-11 on the season.

Running back Peyton Logan scored a late 39-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the score for head coach Dave Dickenson’s team.

The defence had a trio of interceptions with Kobe Williams, Nick Statz and linebacker Cameron Judge, who also added a pivotal fumble on a first-and-goal play by BC that kept momentum in favour of the visitors in the first half.

Lions’ quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. played two quarters but could not overcome a stingy performance by Calgary’s defence. Backup Dane Evans entered the game in the third quarter and led two touchdown drives but also threw a couple of interceptions on a forgettable night offensively for BC.

Running back JaQuan Hardy added a major on the ground and receiver Jevon Cottoy caught a touchdown from Evans late in the fourth quarter.

Defensive lineman Mathieu Betts registered his 18th sack of the season in the second quarter to set a new record of sacks by a National player in the CFL.

The Leos (12-6) are now locked in second place in the West Division and will host a playoff game on November 4 against either the Stampeders or Roughriders. The Blue Bombers meanwhile clinched a spot in the Western Final with the loss by BC and waits to see who emerges out of BC, Calgary and Saskatchewan.

It took a little while for both offences to get going as teams traded punts in the first quarter until Carey got the visitors moving. The running back drove his team down the field with powerful runs over the middle to put them in position to score. The drive stalled in the red zone and Rene Paredes scored the first three points of the game.

Later in the quarter Williams caught an overthrown pass by Adams Jr. to give the Stampeders a red-zone possession. Calgary immediately went to its running back again and No. 35 made it first-and-goal after two plays. Maier then delivered a pass to the right corner of the end zone to an open Hakunavanhu to push the lead to 10-0 with the point after.

Head coach Rick Campbell challenged for a pass interference penalty against the Stampeders defence that kickstarted a long march for the Lions. Adams Jr. converted a third-and-two with a strike to receiver Justin McInnis to pick up 14 yards and move the ball to Calgary’s 35 yard line. The pivot then quickly connected with Cottoy twice all the way to the two-yard line before backup Dominique Davis was tackled by Judge and ended up fumbling the ball on the sneak attempt to give the ball – and momentum – back to the visitors.

Betts got to Maier late in the second quarter to set a new record for a National with 18 sacks on the season. A misconduct penalty after the play was over kept the drive alive for the Stampeders though and the visitors turned it into points. Carey and Logan moved the chains twice on the ground before Begelton made a spectacular one-handed catch at the one-yard line. Stevens finished the job with a running major to make it 17-0 with less than 30 seconds left in the half.

Adams used that little time to connect with McInnis all the way to Calgary’s 33-yard line and kicker Sean Whyte made it 17-3 going into halftime.

Evans took over at quarterback for the Lions to open the third quarter but the offence went two-and-out for the veteran’s first drive of the game.

A second sack by Betts was nullified due to a roughing the passer penalty that gave the Stampeders good field position for their first possession of the second half. Logan followed the play with a scamper through a hole to the left for 27 yards all the way to BC’s two-yard line. Stevens capped off the drive for the visitors with another touchdown run for a 24-3 lead with 10:58 left in the third.

Evans’ second drive was a lot more successful. The pivot converted third-and-seven with a pass to Lucky Whitehead to move across midfield. A couple of completions later set up the Lions within the 10 and Hardy sealed the deal for BC with a short touchdown run. Whyte converted the extra point to make it 24-10 with 4:23 to go in the quarter.

Statz picked off Evans on a deflected pass to give his team yet another red zone possession. Maier took advantage of the turnover by finding Begelton over the middle for the score. After almost three full quarters of play the Stampeders led 31-10 with the point after by Paredes.

Judge added another interception in the fourth for the visitors and Paredes pushed the lead to 34-10 as the clock showed 8:50 to go in the game.

Cottoy scored a late touchdown on a pass by Evans for a 34-16 score after the failed two-point attempt.

Logan’s touchdown in the fourth quarter made it 41-16 and completed a dominant effort for the visitors.

Calgary’s final – and potentially most important – regular season game will take place on Friday, October 27, at McMahon Stadium against the Blue Bombers.

The Lions now wait to see who their opponent will be between Stampeders and Roughriders for the Western Semi-Final on November 4.

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