Costabile: My favourite moments from the Western Semi-Final

The Western Semi-Final between the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions was a fun one, with the latter getting the win and booking a trip to Winnipeg next weekend for the second round of the Grey Cup Playoffs.

It was rowdy at BC Place, with 30,149 fans in attendance to see their team punch their ticket to the Western Final.

And trust me, it was loud.

» Adams Jr. scores five touchdowns in first career playoff win
» Gallery: Stampeders at Lions
» Box Score: Calgary at BC by the numbers

There were plenty of big plays from both teams to go around, with some big defensive moments coming on either side. Lions linebacker Josh Woods had a great game and was all over the field, tallying 11 tackles, three for a loss, and a knockdown, while Cameron Judge came as advertised, tallying nine tackles and a sack, the only sack the Lions o-line allowed on Vernon Adams Jr. all evening.

Speaking of Adams Jr., I’ll get to him in a moment but first, here are a handful of moments that I really enjoyed in Saturday’s matchup.

Garry Peters‘ Drive-Stopping Interception

The Stampeders took an early 7-0 lead over the Lions to start the game striking first with a touchdown on their first drive. The Lions were forced to a two-and-out on their opening possession and when Calgary hit the field again, the chains were moving towards the Lions end zone.

Peters had other ideas though, picking off Maier and putting the ball back in Vernon Adams Jr.‘s hands. The Leos would go down and score a major on the turnover, and instead of Calgary potentially being up 14-0, things were tied at seven.

After that, it really felt like the Lions were in full control the rest of the way. They went on to score a touchdown on each of their next four possessions and didn’t allow another Stampeders major until the fourth quarter. Talk about taking away the momentum.

Big Men Can Catch Passes Too

This may not have been a momentum-swinging play in the grande scheme of the game, but one of my favourite calls by the Stampeders offence was a pass to offensive lineman Bryce Bell for a first down.

He was an eligible receiver, lined up in the tight end position, and who would think to cover an OL? Maier faked to his running back and then passed to Bell, who even made a defender miss on the way to getting a fresh set.

Oh, and his first down celebration? Perfection.

Vernon Adams Jr. First and Long First Down

VA had an excellent outing on Saturday night, scoring five total touchdowns in his team’s win. Adams Jr.’s accuracy and precision was on full display, finding receivers in tight coverage, and when he wasn’t slicing up the secondary, he was calling his own number and using his legs effectively. He made a ton of plays that could have (and should have) made this list, but one of my top moments from the pivot came in the third quarter.

BC had just been called on a holding penalty, pushing them back to first and 20. That, to most, would be a passing down, right? Well, Adams Jr. said, “no, I don’t think so.” The Lions pivot saw a hole and took off, scampering for 24 yards and a first down. We absolutely love to see it.

Keon. Hatcher.

Can a whole person be a moment? This is my article, so sure, a person is a moment now.

Hatcher exploded for 195 yards and a touchdown on Saturday (I did a little foreshadowing of his performance before the game started, by the way). The Lions receiver had only played in one of the three matchups vs. Calgary this season, in Week 10, where he hauled in 170 yards and a major. The Western Semi-Final last year against these same Stampeders? He caught 162 and a touchdown.

There’s something about the Stampeders, and big games, that Keon just can’t get enough of.

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