November 7, 2022

Landry’s 5 takeaways from the Division Semi-Finals

Kevin Sousa/

Hello, Sarah McLachlan. Your voice is better than ice cream, better than anything else that I’ve tried. Now, that’s how you sing an anthem.

“It’s almost like the win was the second-best thing that happened today,” gushed BC Lions head coach Rick Campbell about getting an opportunity to meet the Grammy and Juno award winner. Almost.

Here are the Division Semi-Final takeaways.

» 109th Grey Cup Divisional clashes set
» Rourke on Lions’ win: ‘It wasn’t pretty but we got it done’
» Als down Ticats to advance to Eastern Final
» Lions defeat Stampeders to move on to Western Final



Both the Lions’ and the Montreal Alouettes’ defences took over big portions of their games on Sunday, announcing with authority that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts will have their hands full in the Division Final.

Montreal’s defence swarmed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ backfield and came up with six sacks and many, many, many more pocket collapses that resulted in hurried plays by Ticat quarterbacks Matthew Shiltz and Dane Evans.

The Als held Hamilton to 244 net yards, including just 37 rushing yards. The unit also forced 3 turnovers and 43 yards in losses.

The Lions’ defence did an astounding job against the top-notch offensive line of the Calgary Stampeders, holding the league’s leading rushing attack to 83 yards (Calgary had averaged 135 rushing yards per game during the regular season, and 202 per game over their final five regular season contests including 144 against the Lions in Week 16) while scoring a couple of sacks and forcing two turnovers on downs.

BONUS TAKEAWAY: You can tell Noel Thorpe still really loves his job.



The Montreal Alouettes had the big bruiser back in their line-up for Week 18. They decided to ease William Stanback into action and why not?

In his injury absence, the Als had gotten fine fill-in work from running backs Jeshrun Antwi and Walter Fletcher.

And in the Eastern Semi-Final against Hamilton, it was Fetcher who was carrying most of the mail, rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown (almost two), including a beauty of a 33-yard score. While Stanback, on his first few lugs, was tamed and locked down.


When the Alouettes looked to control the ball and drain the clock while clinging to a one-score lead late in the game, the call went out:

“Release the Stanbacken!”

The Alouettes turned to their veteran running back and he responded by looking exactly like the player we all knew he was, power-running for 43 yards on 6 carries over the last two Montreal drives.

Montreal has Walter Fletcher looking good as they head to Toronto for the Eastern Final.

Now they’ve got William Stanback going, too.



BC’s Keon Hatcher topped his big day (eight catches for 162 yards) with a 45-yard touchdown reception on a third and inches play. Short-yardage quarterback Antonio Pipkin dropped back to loft one up instead of charging forward for those needed inches.

“Man,” said Hatcher after the game, adding an emphatic and elongated, “oh!”

For head coach Rick Campbell, making the call was partly situational, with his team in Calgary territory at the time, but greatly gut-feeling inspiration, too. “I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is if I’m telling the players to play to win,” Campbell said of the call.

BONUS TAKEAWAY: Object lessons in just how close things can be to going the other way were evident on two BC touchdown strikes, including the third down play to Hatcher. If Calgary’s Javien Elliott doesn’t catch a piece, just a piece, of blocker Jevon Cottoy on the way to Pipkin, he very well might have stymied that opportunity. On Nathan Rourke’s gorgeous touchdown throw to Alexander Hollins, Calgary’s Folarin Orimolade got to the BC quarterback, what, a half-second too late?



TSN panelist Milt Stegall said it following the BC Lions’ Western Semi-Final win over the Calgary Stampeders. The Lions’ receivers got help in their physical elevation on some spectacular catches by the emotional elevation they felt in the presence of one Nathan Rourke.

He’d know, of course, having caught all those passes for all those yards.

Kid Canada really did illustrate that he was back in the Western Semi-Final. Showing poise while under pressure, an accurate delivery system and a wee bit of toughness as well, limping around on that sore right foot of his, hanging in the pocket when he knew he was about to be crushed.

There is an elevating power in getting your franchise quarterback back in play, especially one as talented as Rourke, and receivers like Dominique Rhymes and Keon Hatcher and Bryan Burnham maybe do get a little more loft in their leaps when No.12 is throwing the ball.

“Nate’s different,” said Hatcher. “He’s a different human.”

I can’t help but think that the current flows two ways. When Rhymes makes a ridiculous contested catch for 37 yards to open the third quarter, or when Burnham twists and turns and comes down with another unconscious touchdown grab, when things like that happen, then Rourke gets a burst of confidence himself, and that sore foot of his maybe hurts just a little bit less.



Timing may or may not be everything; that is an adage that continues to be bandied about as it has been for generations. Personally, I think it means a lot but not everything. I’m going to say it means… 83 per cent.

So, timing means a lot. In football, it can lead me to contemplating the mysteries of the universe, like all great art can.

Montreal’s first touchdown drive against Hamilton was topped with a beautiful looking timing pattern, with quarterback Trevor Harris hitting receiver Jake Wieneke for a 14-yard major.

On one of the camera angles you could see, clearly, that Harris zips the ball out and towards a spot before Wieneke has even hinted at a break in his pattern. The ball is already halfway home when Wieneke turns in a full sprint, not at all surprised when he looks back and sees the spiralling torpedo targeting the spot that he is making his way towards. And he secures it for the score, as ball and man meet at the designated spot, at the designated time.

Perhaps there is something wrong with me but I am seriously captured by a football moment such as that whenever I see it. I only wish Gord Downie or Leonard Cohen had written something poetic about the beauty of football. Hey, Sarah McLachlan, you want to take a run at it?

AND FINALLY… When they’re daring you to try and beat them with your superb running game, maybe you go ahead and take them up on that dare.

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