With glorious sunshine making it a balmy 20 degrees around B.C. Place, it was as if summer felt like sticking around a little longer on Saturday.
Vernon Adams Jr. and the B.C. Lions will be sticking around the CFL playoffs a bit longer, too.
The Leos absorbed a three-play touchdown drive from the Calgary Stampeders in the opening minutes of the Western semifinals to roll to a 41-30 victory, earning a berth in the division finals, where the weather is assuredly going to be much more frigid.
After a two-and-out on their first series, Adams led four straight extended touchdown drives, throwing two majors and rushing for two others in the first half. He finished the game with 413 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-39 passing, while rushing for three more.
B.C. wideout Keon Hatcher, who sat out the Week 20 meeting, had nine catches for 195 yards and a touchdown, bettering his Week 7 performance against the Stamps (170 yards, TD).
The Stampeders tried some of the same old tricks they used in their Week 20 win over B.C., rushing three and dropping players into coverage to try and confuse Adams, but it didn’t matter. He was surgical and decisive with his throws, and when he did tuck it and run, he was explosive and efficient. He had two scrambles for touchdowns in the first half, and a 24-yard scamper in the third quarter to get out of a 1st-and-20 jam.
The B.C. defence looked vulnerable on B.C.’s first possession, with QB Jake Maier connecting on a 41-yard pass to Reggie Begelton, then a 32-yard strike to Marken Michel to cap a three-play 81-yard drive. But the Lions returned to their bend-but-don’t-break ways after that, keeping the Stamps out of the end zone until their final drive of the game.
Calgary was 0-for-2 in the red zone, and had an average drive length of 21 yards — with none longer than 51 — as they could only manage five field Rene Parades goals until Reggie Begelton caught an 11-yard touchdown with 1:11 remaining.
The Stampeders were 6-16 on second down conversions at one point — they finished 9-of-19 — but were stifled for most of the game.
And the Lions did it without linebacker Ben Hladik, who injured his knee when colliding with teammate Garry Peters in the first quarter. Peters got the pick on the play, but Hladik paid the price, as he missed the rest of the game.
Maier’s 304 yards passing (23-of-33, two touchdowns) were very much empty calories, with his two scores bookmarking an ineffective game. Calgary had 371 yards in net offence, with Begelton leading the way with 112 yards receiving. Running back Ka’Deem Carey had 75 yards on 14 carries.
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