Stampeders 26, Eskimos 22
EDMONTON — Rene Paredes nailed four field goals as the Calgary Stampeders became the sole remaining undefeated team in the Canadian Football League with a 26-22 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday.
The Stampeders improved to 4-0 on the season while quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell improved to 7-0 as a CFL starter, tying former Stampeder Jeff Garcia’s league record for best start.
The Eskimos dropped to 4-1 on the year, missing out on a chance to surpass the total number of wins they had in a disappointing 4-14 campaign in 2013.
Edmonton’s defence was forced to come up big early as Eskimos punt returner Jamal Miles coughed up the ball just over a minute into the game on his own 27-yard line. That was as close as Calgary got, however, as the Stampeders were held to a 36-yard Paredes field goal.
The Eskimos came right back on their next possession with a 31-yard Grant Shaw field goal to tie it 3-3.
Calgary came up with another big special teams play with six minutes remaining in the first quarter as Keenan MacDougall blocked a Shaw punt deep in the Edmonton zone and was able to pick it up and ramble the remaining six yards into the end zone to put the Stampeders up 10-3.
Pat White replaced Mike Reilly at quarterback to start the second quarter and instantly drew a pass interference call on an end zone pass. He would then take it in from the one-yard line to knot the game back up. It was White’s first CFL touchdown.
Edmonton looked to have surged in front two minutes later on a 59-yard passing play from Reilly to Fred Stamps, however the play was called back on a holding infraction.
The defensive battle continued as Fred Bennett picked off a Reilly pass at the Edmonton 45, eventually leading to a 36-yard Paredes field goal.
The Eskimos responded with a 40-yarder from Shaw.
Edmonton tried a fake punt with 24 seconds remaining as defensive back Aaron Grymes took off with the ball from his own end zone. It was a costly risk, however, as he was stopped just short of the first down, leading to a 16-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell to Jeff Fuller and a 20-13 Calgary lead at the half.
The Eskimos atoned for the miscue six-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter as they stopped the Stamps on a third down gamble at the Calgary 32-yard line. On the next play, Reilly was able to pass to a wide-open Shamawd Chambers for the touchdown to tie it once again.
Calgary regained the lead in the pouring rain with just over a minute remaining in the third frame on a 29-yard Paredes field goal and then benefited from a bevy of Edmonton penalties to make it 26-20 six minutes into the fourth quarter on a 30-yarder from their kicker.
Edmonton had a chance for an easy first down with one-and-a-half minutes down, but instead of driving it the inches necessary, tried a passing play only to see Reilly get sacked to force a punt.
Calgary gave up a safety with 44 seconds left to run some time off the clock and put Edmonton on their own 35. The move allowed the Stamps to run out the clock from there.
The Stampeders return home to face the B.C. Lions next Friday. Edmonton has a bye week before starting a two-game road swing in Montreal on Aug. 8.
Notes: The last time the Eskimos were able to come away with a win against their provincial rivals was on Sept. 5, 2011. Calgary came into the game with eight wins in a row over Edmonton in the head-to-head match-ups. The Stampeders were without reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player Jon Cornish, who was placed on the six-game injured list with concussion symptoms. Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt missed his fourth game this season. Calgary came into the game having allowed just three sacks this season, while Edmonton’s defence led the league with 18. The Stamps entered the match-up having surrendered a CFL-low 10 points a game, and just one touchdown, compared to the 14.5 scored against the Eskimos. Fans were just as interested in the 50/50 draw as they were the game. In their last home game against Ottawa, the jackpot of $71,732 went unclaimed and carried over to the game against Calgary. The potential for a big draw ignited a frenzy, as fans endured long lines to get a crack at the pot, which ended up at an astounding and record-setting $348,534. Because of the heavy demand, the draw couldn’t be announced at the game. Instead plans were in place to announce it on the team website. … The attendance for the game was a league season-high 40,066.