Stampeders clinch playoff berth, avoid season sweep with win over Lions
Despite the loss, B.C. also clinches 1st playoff spot since 2018
Calgary Stampeders rookie Jalen Philpot seized the moment in his CFL debut in his hometown stadium.
"The funny thing is that it's amateur night today [Salute to Amateur Football], because that's my memory," said the 22-year-old native of Delta, B.C., whose father Cory Philpot played eight seasons in the CFL for the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"I remember being out here playing at halftime, running around and just having fun and taking in the whole scenery," Philpot said. "It really came full circle for me, because I was out here 15 years ago doing the same thing as these guys, so it's just so awesome."
On a Saturday night that was short on offence, Philpot hauled in a 54-yard reception shortly before halftime in Calgary's 25-11 win over the Lions at BC Place.
The Stampeders (9-5) failed on their two-point convert attempt. Peyton Logan added a 19-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter, and Dominique Rhymes caught the lone touchdown pass for the Lions (9-4), from Antonio Pipkin with 29 seconds remaining. Pipkin carried the ball across the one-yard-line for a successful two-point convert.
With the win, combined with losses this week by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Redblacks, Calgary clinched its 17th consecutive CFL post-season berth on the night. Despite the loss, B.C. also clinched its first playoff spot since 2018.
WATCH | Stampeders take down Lions to book spot in Grey Cup Playoffs:
Calgary's field-goal kicker Rene Paredes was good on four-of-five attempts, from 39, 33, 31 and 33 yards. He added a convert for 13 total points.
Sean Whyte extended his successful field-goal streak to 13 with a 34-yard kick with 24 seconds left in the third quarter — B.C.'s first points of the game.
"Offensively, we never got any type of flow," said Lions head coach Rick Campbell. "We made a few plays here and there but never got into the flow offensively. So, not a fun game for home fans."
Paredes kicked wide to the right on his first field-goal attempt of the game. That came just 2:08 into the contest — the Stampeders had marched down to the B.C. 41-yard line after opening the first quarter by recovering Paredes' 11-yard onside kick.
"We were aggressive," said Dave Dickenson, who improved his record as Calgary's head coach to 70-28-2 in his 100th career game as head coach of the Stampeders. "We started with the onside kick. We basically ran all the plays we could, all the aggressive-type plays. Some worked, some didn't. But I liked what I saw."
In his first home start at B.C. Place after being acquired in a trade with the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 19, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was 12-for-24 in the air for 151 yards. He added 11 yards on the ground. Anthony Pipkin stepped in under centre late in the fourth quarter, going 4-for-6 for 66 yards and one touchdown throw.
Kicker Stefan Flintoft had a busy night for the Lions, punting for 417 yards.
"I thought we were playing well enough to win a CFL game on defence," said Campbell. "We gave up some big plays we didn't want to give up and then the tackling, especially late, is frustrating for any defensive player."
A major foul for roughing the passer also negated an interception by T.J. Lee with just over three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.
"There were a couple, I think, that hurt both teams," Campbell said. "I don't see the penalties as the reason why we won or lost."
As Calgary's defence kept the Lions pinned in their own half of the field for most of the game, quarterback Jake Maier had a strong outing. He completed 27 of 33 pass attempts for 294 yards and added 14 rushing yards. The Stampeders finished with five penalties for 36 yards.
After the Lions won both matchups at McMahon Stadium for the first time since 2010, the Stampeders extended a winning record at B.C. Place that stretches back to 2016.