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THE MOJ: Lions lose the game - and their poise - in 41-16 loss to Calgary

Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. only played the first half before being pulled


That’s the score when one team is playing for its playoff life and the other is pretty much resigned to finishing second in the standings.

How else do you describe what happened Friday night when the visiting Calgary Stampeders walked into BC Place Stadium and drilled the B.C. Lions by 25 points?

It was a display of one team playing with urgency while another did not while also losing its poise in the process.

“Poise is what it came down to for me. We have to be able to function – and this is not our whole football team by the way – there was some incidences with a small group of people who actually aren’t bad guys. I don’t dislike them but we have to have enough poise in the moment to be able to function and not lose our minds,” Lions head coach Rick Campbell said after watching his team rack up 10 penalties for 117 yards.

The most obvious example of what Campbell was referring to was a sequence at the end of the first half when the Lions were down 10-0 and had the Stampeders pinned deep in their own territory.

Lions defensive end Mathieu Betts registered his 18th sack of the season and appeared to have forced the Stampeders to punt from their own 8-yard line. Unfortunately for B.C., defensive end Sione Teuhema decided to headbutt Calgary tackle D’Antne Demery after the whistle, picking up a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Teuhema would claim that Demery spit on him but the end result was that Teuhema was ejected from the game and the Stampeders would continue their drive, which eventually resulted in a touchdown giving the visitors a 17-0 lead.

For all intents and purposes, the football game was over at that point.

That series came on the heels of a Lions drive that ended at the Calgary one-yard line when short-yardage quarterback Dominique Davis fumbled the football. The play again demonstrated the Lions inability to convert in short-yardage situations which has been an issue all season long and it was not unnoticed by Campbell.

“We want to make sure we have the right guys doing the right things and we need to help scheme-wise. I would say we are losing the short yardage battle right now. That’s actually number one on my whiteboard for the bye week is short yardage.,” Campbell said.

Another aspect of the game that Campbell and his staff will be focusing in on during the bye week is the run defence. The Stampeders gashed the Lions for 213 yards on the ground for the night.

As Campbell told us post-game, it was part lack of engagement and part scheme.

“It’s going to require 12 guys to be committed to do their job and cancel their gap. I saw – at least on several plays – a team that was a little hungrier and playing for their playoff lives. Once we got down…I saw some guys…I’m not questioning their effort but I am questioning their urgency but I don’t think urgency will be a question mark in a playoff game,” he said.

And finally, turnovers continue to haunt the Lions with the Stampeders getting 24 points off of five Lions miscues.

The Lions finished at -5 in that department with three interceptions, a fumble and a turnover on downs.

Campbell has always said that the Lions are at their best when they avoid negative plays.

Between the penalties and turnovers, they had 16 of them on Friday night.

If this team is going to win some playoff games, it’s something that has to be cleaned up.

But there is a silver lining in all of this.

With a bye to finish the regular season, the football club will have two weeks to stew on being embarrassed at home and in all likelihood will be facing the very same Calgary team when they return to the field for the Western Division semi-final on November 4th.


Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. only played the first half before being pulled. Adams is dealing with a knee issue and Campbell didn’t feel like taking any chances with his star quarterback being down 17-0. Adams Jr. threw for 116 yards in the first half of the contest, which saw him finish with 4,766 passing yards this season. He needed 347 yards passing to crack the 5,000-yard barrier and become the fifth B.C. quarterback to do so following Jonathon Jennings (2016), Casey Printers (2004), Dave Dickenson (2003) and Doug Flutie (1991). Lions kicker Sean Whyte hit on a 40-yard field goal to end the first half – his only attempt on the night. Whyte finished the regular season with a streak of 18 consecutive field goals. Betts’ 18th sack allowed him to surpass Winnipeg’s Jamal Westerman (2015) and former Lion Brent Johnson (2005) for most sacks by a Canadian in a single season. Johnson and Westerman had co-held the record with 17. Lions linebacker Ben Hladik was credited for six tackles against the Stampeders, giving him 101 on the season. Hladik joins Kevin Eiben, Henoc Muamba and Alex Singleton as the only Canadian linebackers to do so. Eiben - currently the special teams coordinator for the Toronto Argonauts – is a Vancouver College product who grew up in Delta. Receiver Keon Hatcher dressed but did not play due to a hamstring injury. He’s expected to be ready for the playoff game. Justin McInnis started in his place and was the Lions top receiver on the night, finishing with seven catches for 108 yards.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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