CALGARY – The Calgary Stampeders advanced to the CFL’s West Division final with a 35-9 win over the B.C. Lions in Sunday’s semifinal.
The Stampeders travel north to Edmonton to meet the Eskimos next Sunday with the winner booking a berth in this year’s Grey Cup.
The provincial rivals tied for the best record in the CFL this season at 14-4, but Edmonton won their season series and thus the playoff bye.
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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats edged the Toronto Argonauts 25-22 in the earlier East semifinal. Hamilton meets the Ottawa Redblacks in the East final.
The Stampeders will appear in their seventh division final in eight seasons under head coach and general manager John Hufnagel.
Stampeder quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell improved to a career 3-0 in CFL playoff starts. The division nominee for the league’s Most Outstanding Player award completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 199 yards and a pair of touchdown throws to Eric Rogers.
Calgary running back Jerome Messam rushed for a touchdown and defensive back Keon Raymond ran an interception in for a major.
Anthony Parker caught a two-point convert throw for the hosts and Rene Paredes kicked a field goal in front of an announced 26,306 at McMahon Stadium.
The Lions replied with a trio of Richie Leon field goals and did not score an offensive touchdown against Calgary this season.
Travis Lulay relieved starting quarterback Jonathon Jennings just before halftime when Jennings suffered a shoulder injury. It was Lulay’s first game action since spraining his knee Sept. 3 in Montreal. Lulay was 10-for-19 in passing for 119 yards..
Jennings was 4-for-7 for 56 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked twice.
Sunday’s game marked the Stampeders’ 100th playoff game in the history of the franchise. The defending Grey Cup champions didn’t want to trip on the Lions (7-11) in their bid to repeat.
Kickoff was sunny and windy with a temperature of about 13 degrees.
Rogers, the CFL’s leader in receiving yards, hauled in a 10-yard pass from Mitchell at 9:13 of the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Richie’s third field goal was from 40 yards out midway through the quarter.
Paredes and Rob Maver padded Calgary’s lead to 28-6 after three quarters with a 30-yard field goal and 44-yard punt single respectively.
Both teams were almost even in yards on offence at halftime, but the Stampeders led 24-6. Leone booted a 34-yard field goal with less than a minute remaining in the half.
Messam dodged Lions safety Eric Fraser on a 15-yard fumble for rushing major at 10:16. Paredes added the single-point convert.
Mitchell capped a 74-yard drive early in the second quarter with a 13-yard touchdown throw to Rogers. Mitchell added a two-point convert throw to Parker.
Raymond picked off a Jennings pass intended for Bryan Burnham and scored on a 38-yard return at 13:38 of the first quarter. Mitchell and Marquay McDaniel didn’t connect on an attempted two-point convert.
Hufnagel won a challenge on a pass interference call earlier in the quarter, which prevented the Lions from getting the ball on Calgary’s one-yard line.
The visitors settled for Leon’s 16-yard field goal and a 3-1 lead at 11:07. Maver kicked a 77-yard punt single in the first quarter.
Calgary’s win was hard on their offensive line. Left guard Shane Bergman left the game with an upper body injury just before halftime and centre Pierre Lavertu limped to the sideline in the first quarter.
Defensive lineman Junior Turner was pressed into offensive duties in Bergman’s absence. Spencer Wilson shifted to the middle for Lavertu and Quinn Smith rotated in at right guard.