Clinch­ing no cinch

Stamps fail to lock up first, los­ing to Lions

Winnipeg Sun - - SPORTS - DANNY AUSTIN Post­media Net­work

CAL­GARY — Clinch­ing first place will have to wait an­other week.

With a win Satur­day night over the B.C. Lions, the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers could have guar­an­teed a home game in the West Di­vi­sion fi­nal on

Nov. 18.

The Stamps couldn’t get it done, though, fall­ing 26-21 to the Lions and en­sur­ing that the Stamps will have to wait at least an­other week to book their place in the West Fi­nal.

The Stamps put up a fight, to be sure, but a stingy Lions de­fence lim­ited a Stam­ped­ers team that is still work­ing to in­te­grate a new group of re­ceivers into their lineup.

It’s not a disas­ter, by any means. The Stamps only need to win one of their fi­nal three games to clinch first place in the West.

But it’s a re­minder that there are good teams in the di­vi­sion.

The Stamps have now lost to the Lions, Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos and Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers this sea­son, and the Lions look like the sort of team that can cause any­one trou­ble.

Things started slow, to be sure.

The Stamps didn’t score a sin­gle point in the first quar­ter. Com­bined with their show­ing in Mon­treal against the Alou­ettes on Mon­day, that meant they’d been shut out in four of the pre­vi­ous five quar­ters that they’d played.

The Lions, mean­while, came out of the lock­er­room fir­ing on all cylin­ders.

Guided by quar­ter­back Travis Lu­lay — who com­pleted 14-of-25 passes for 193 yards and threw one in­ter­cep­tion — they opened the game with a 40-yard field goal by Tyler Long, and added an­other a cou­ple min­utes later to make the game 6-0.

Af­ter former Stam­ped­ers re­ceiver An­thony Parker ran a punt back 79 yards but wsa stopped just short of a touch­down by a heroic ef­fort from the Stamps’ Pa­trick Lev­els, Tyrell Sut­ton put the vis­i­tors ahead 13-0 with a three-yard run into the end­zone.

It looked bad, and truth­fully, it was bad.

Bo Levi Mitchell was strug­gling to con­nect with his re­ceivers. That’s un­der­stand­able given how in­juries have rav­aged the Stamps re­ceiv­ing corps and the team was play­ing with an in­ex­pe­ri­enced group. He even­tu­ally fin­ished the game hav­ing com­pleted 17-of-38 passes for 215 yards, while throw­ing two touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion.

Five days ear­lier against the Alou­ettes, the de­fence had man­aged to keep the Stamps in it and give them a shot to roar ahead in the fourth quar­ter, but the Lions are a sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter team than the Als.

By the end of the first quar­ter, though, the Stamps seemed to fi­nally get a lit­tle life.

The cat­a­lyst seemed to be a high­light-reel pass from Mitchell to Wil­liam Langlais, who took a big hit from the Lions’ An­thony Thomp­son and man­aged to hang on to the ball.

The Stamps will have an­other shot at clinch­ing the West next Satur­day, when they host Saskatchewan.

Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers’ Pa­trick Lev­els (left) tack­les B.C. Lions’ An­thony Parker dur­ing last night’s game at Mcma­hon Sta­dium in Cal­gary.

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