VANCOUVER — The BC Lions are in search of their fourth consecutive win as they travel to Calgary to take on Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders on Saturday night from McMahon Stadium.
Lead by yet another jaw-dropping performance from Canadian superstar Nathan Rourke, the Lions made a statement with a 46-14 win over the Edmonton Elks in Week 9.
The Stampeders found success of their own in the previous week of play, the Stamps defence helped edge their team to a 17-3 win over the Ottawa REDBLACKS in Week 9.
From an offesnive standpoint, it was the Nathan Rourke show for BC against the Elks, as the Canadian pivot completed 91.7 per cent of his passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns. While adding another rushing touchdown with his legs, pushing his total to six on the evening.
If Calgary plans on being success on home turf in Week 10 they will need to find a way to stop the leagues top quarterback and a group of receivers that features playmakers at seemingly every position.
Receiver Lucky Whitehead caught six passes for 148 yards and a touchdown against the Elks. Dominique Rhymes finished with 91 yards and an impressive three-touchdown first half performance. While Keon Hatcher had 88 receiving yards in the game.
The Lions offence is a tight knit group both on and off the field. The team chemistry is something that Whitehead believes has aided his team significantly on the field.
“The chemistry, just hanging out outside of football, knowing one another has been fun for us,” Whitehead told BCLions.com. “We cheer each other on and get each other going.”
If those three receivers don’t provide enough of a test for the Stampeders, Bryan Burnham also returned last week. Burnham brought down seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown after missing the previous four games with an injury. The return of Burnham is a welcome sight for a Lions offence that prepares for a stout Stampeders secondary.
The Lions will be without starting running back James Butler Saturday night in Calgary. Meaning ball carrying duties will be thrust upon David Mackie. Mackie has rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries through seven games.
The Lions boast the best defensive unit in the league through the first nine weeks of the season, having surrendered an average of 224.6 yards through the air and 75.3 yards on the ground.
Defensive back Marcus Sayles and linebacker Jordan Williams lead the Leos with 27 defensive tackles. When it comes to turnovers, five different players have a forced fumble and five have at least one interception, led by defensive back Garry Peters who has three.
The Stamps will be faced with a Lions front seven that has recorded 21 sacks on the year, tied for third most across the CFL. Defensive tackle Sione Teuhema and defensive lineman Mathieu Betts lead the way with five sacks each.
All this to say, the Lions defence will provide a stiff test for the Stampeders on Saturday night. However, that’s something the Stamps aren’t used to, in what has proven to be a tough West Division.
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell comes into the game after throwing for 137 yards in the win over the REDBLACKS. He failed to find the end zone, marking the second consecutive game he’s failed to throw a touchdown pass.
No Stamps receivers finished with more than 50 receiving yards, something they will look to change in their Week 10 matchup on Saturday. Calgary will be looking to using the impressive trio of Richard Sindani, Reggie Begelton and Kamar Jorden to help exploit what has shown to be a disciplined Lions secondary.
Stamps’ starting running back Ka’Deem Carey will sit out his second game in as many weeks. Taking over for Carey in Week 9, Dedrick Mills stepped up admirably, rushing for 100 yards on 16 carries against Ottawa. Calgary will look for Mills to shoulder most of the ball-carrying load in hopes of a repeat performance against BC.
Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson isn’t surprised by the strong showing from Mills and expects him to continue to contribute as the weeks go on.
“They both, to me, are 15-20 carry guys that can carry the load,” said Dickenson of Mills when speaking to Stampeders.com. “Both can catch the ball too, it kind of depends on our receivers. I feel confident in lots of those guys. We have flexibility with our roster.”
There’s not much to dislike when your defence surrenders just a single field goal over 60 minutes of football in the previous week. Expecting to do it two weeks in a row may be a tad unrealistic, but a strong defensive performance will certainly be needed against the high flying Lions offence.
Calgary rookie defensive back Titus Wall intercepted a pair of passes against Ottawa, while fellow defensive back Dionte Ruffin recorded his first interception.
Dickenson knows how critical the play of his defensive backs will be against Rourke and the Lions receivers.
“All of our defensive backs are going to get challenged,” Dickenson told Stampederes.com. “They’re an equal opportunity team, they throw to every spot so everyone is going to have to be at their best.”
Getting to BC’s Rourke and making him uncomfortable in the pocket will significantly help in limiting the Lions offence. Linebacker Cameron Judge and offensive lineman Shawn Lemon each had a sack last week. However, getting into the Lions backfield won’t be easy as the BC offesnive line has allowed a league low seven sacks.
The Lions can gain ground on the division leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a win. The Stampeders are looking for a similar effort from Week 9.
Kickoff from McMahon Stadium in Calgary is set for 7:00p.m. ET and the game can be seen on TSN, ESPN2 and can be followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.
– With files from BCLions.com and Stampeders.com