Story Lucas Wilson / Images Erich Eichhorn ( ISN )
August 19, 2016 Vancouver, BC ( ISN ) – The Calgary Stampeders made it perfectly clear: they are the team to beat in the CFL West Division. With first place up for grabs, the Stamps dominated the BC Lions from start to finish on Friday night at BC Place. After a week of heavy anticipation, the game ended in a 37-9 blowout victory for Calgary.
“We got outcoached, and we got outplayed,” said Lions head coach Wally Buono. “(Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson) got his team better prepared than I did, and it was obvious. They were much faster. They were much sharper, much more physical. At the end of it, it wasn’t even close.”
From the very first series, the Stampeders were in complete control. On just the sixth play of the game, Stamps quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell hit Bakari Grant from twenty-one yards out to open the scoring. The Stampeders picked apart the Lions defense all night, largely in part to the strong protection provided by their offensive line. Mitchell finished the game 28/38 for 340 yards and two touchdowns.
“They did a good job picking up our pressure,” said Buono. “Bo saw it. He got rid of the football, and he didn’t hang on to it. When Bo’s on, he’s the best quarterback in the league. We all know that.”
The other side of the ball was not much different. The Lions offence was able to muster three field goal drives in the first half, but that was all. Key drops by Lions receivers Manny Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham stalled drives in the first half, which ultimately prevented BC from keeping pace with Calgary early in the game. Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings went 10/22 for 153 yards. Buono spread the blame for the lack of offensive success to his entire unit. “The onus isn’t on Jonathon,” said Buono. “We didn’t protect very well; we didn’t catch the ball very well.”
A huge turning point came on the first play of the second half when Lions kick returner Chris Rainey fumbled the ball, which Calgary recovered. Two plays later, the Stampeders punched it in for a touchdown to make it a 24-9 game, which completely took the air out of BC Place. After the Lions offence failed to gain any traction in the second half, there were scattered boos coming from pockets of the 21,341 fans in attendance. Down 34-9 in the fourth quarter, Buono put Travis Lulay in the game as a last-ditch effort to spark a comeback. He managed just one first down in three series, going 4/7 for just 19 yards.
While Dickenson was pleased with his team’s performance, he acknowledged that his club did not face the Lions at their best. “It was a good win against a great opponent,” said Dickenson. “I think BC will be there in the end. I know it just wasn’t their night.” With the win, Calgary moved to 6-1-1 on the season, now three points ahead of BC for top spot in the West.