Eskimos' comeback falls short
CALGARY — First the Calgary Stampeders lost quarterback Kevin Glenn.
Then they almost lost the Labour Day Classic.
Glenn was sidelined in the second quarter by a bruised knee and replaced by backup Bo Levi Mitchell, then the Edmonton Eskimos exploded for four unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter as Calgary held on for a 37-34 victory on Monday.
The Stamps built a 37-7 cushion with 10 minutes remaining in the game when Edmonton exploded for four touchdowns.
“I thought our team played hard, they played fast, they played physical,” Calgary head coach John Hufnagel said. “We need to play smarter and I say that to my football team all the time. We knew Edmonton was a good fourth-quarter team. We knew there was no quit in that football team. Life is a lesson, so is a football game.”
Cary Koch, Kerry Joseph, John White, Matt Carter and Fred Stamps had touchdowns for Edmonton (1-8), whose 27 points in the fourth quarter made for a wild finish and a tense one for Stampeder fans at McMahon Stadium. But Calgary (7-2) held on for the win and continues to chase the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-1) atop the Canadian Football League. The Eskimos lost their seventh in a row and reside West Division basement.
The Stampeders led 17-0 after the opening quarter, but their momentum stalled momentarily when Glenn left the game in the second.
His leg buckled after a snap and while he managed to complete the pass, Glenn immediately limped off favouring his left leg. He completed eight of 11 pass attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown pass before leaving the game.
“He could have played, but he wouldn’t have the mobility I thought we needed at the position because of the pressure their front four was getting on us,” Hufnagel said
Glenn was also unable to finish Calgary’s previous game against Toronto, when a fourth-quarter head injury forced him to the sidelines to comply with the CFL’s concussion protocol.
Maurice Price led Calgary with a three touchdowns in the receiver’s first game since injuring his hamstring in Week 3. He finished with 165 receiving yards on five receptions.
“I’ve been so hungry for one of these so-to-speak, breakout games and it finally feels good to kind of get one,” Price said.
Mitchell was 11-for-18 in passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns passes in relief of Glenn. Mitchell ran for a short-yardage touchdown before replacing Glenn in the second quarter.
Calgary kicker Rene Paredes made three field goals from 41, 14 and 24 yards for the hosts in front of 32,217 at McMahon.
It was a miserable three quarters for the Eskimos and quarterback Mike Reilly, who managed just 86 yards of offence before the fourth.
Among Edmonton’s momentum-killing mistakes, Calgary recovered the Eskimos second-half kickoff and produced a field goal out of that turnover.
But Edmonton is highest-scoring team in the CFL in fourth quarters. Reilly threw touchdown passes of 35, 18, 33 and seven yards to Carter, White, Koch and Stamps respectively starting at 6:52.
Reilly was 16-for-35 in passing with a pair of interceptions and four touchdown throws. Calgary sacked him seven times, led by Charleston Hughes with three.
“If you’re going to score four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and it’s not enough to win, you didn’t do much right in the first three,” Reilly said.
“Our offence let us down today. Our defence I thought played a great game. It’s hard for them to keep points off the field when we can’t stay on the field.”
Edmonton lost a fifth straight game by five points or less.
“Sooner or later the football gods are going to have to smile on us and give us a couple breaks,” Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed said. “We created a lot late in the fourth quarter, but early on we’re just digging ourselves holes.”
Price had 66- and 42-yard touchdown receptions in the second half. The 27-year-old slowed down at the goal-line to celebrate them, which didn’t impress Hufnagel.
“He had an excellent night, got himself ready to play and demonstrated the speed he does possess,” the coach said. “Obviously I need to coach him to make sure he gets in the end zone before he celebrates.”
Calgary running back Jon Cornish, the No. 2 rusher in the league behind Saskatchewan’s Kory Sheets, had 60 yards on 17 carries.
The Labour Day rematch is Friday in Edmonton.