The B.C. Lions are one win closer to playing for the Grey Cup at home.
First place Lions will host Nov. 20's western final because Calgary Stampeders beat the Edmonton Eskimos 43-23 yesterday. Second-place Calgary hosts Sunday's western semifinal against Edmonton, which could've taken first away from B.C. with a win.
Lions could've clinched top spot Saturday at B.C. Place Stadium but instead lost 13-12 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders before 38,847 fans. It was 12-6 B.C.'s sixth loss in seven games after going 11-0. Three of the last four games were losses of three points or less in the final minute.
"I don't understand how you can, from one half the year to the next, lose that edge," said quarterback Dave Dickenson.
Dickenson, four-of-five with 61 yards, was sacked four times in the third quarter. It was his first appearance since suffering an Oct. 1 concussion against Saskatchewan. Casey Printers started and finished, going 13-of-25 with 133 yards.
Saskatchewan quarterback Nealon Greene hit Jason French at 1:39 to go in the fourth quarter for the game's only touchdown. Greene failed on the two-point convert, giving Printers a chance to win it for B.C. His short drive ended midfield on a third-down gamble when Ryan Thelwell's catch was one-yard shy of a first down. Saskatchewan ran out the clock to win the regular season series 2-1.
"These guys are good," said Printers. "They understand our concept, they understand our schemes."
Kicker Mark McLoughlin made three of four field goal attempts, including one from 45 yards. McLoughlin, however, tweaked his hamstring on a second quarter kickoff and missed a 44-yard field goal in the third. Lions' other two points came from a first-quarter safety conceded by Saskatchewan kicker Paul McCallum, who had two field goals.
The 93nd Grey Cup championship is at B.C. Place on Nov. 27.