Calgary Stampeders defense ferocious in preseason win over Saskatchewan Roughriders

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders were in mid-season form Friday evening, defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders 37-1 as the clubs opened their pre-season at McMahon Stadium.

After kickoff was moved back half an hour due to the blanket of smoke on the City of Calgary, Bo Levi Mitchell wasted no time in getting his offence rolling, testing the Riders secondary early by connecting with Reggie Begelton on back-to-back plays.

Rene Paredes notched the opening drive field goal, giving the Stamps an early jump out of the gates.

Mitchell’s day would be done following two drives on offence, but not before he’d complete three of five passing for 85 yards.

Coming in for the reigning Grey Cup MVP, Nick Arbuckle kept the ball in the air for Calgary, hooking up with Juwan Brescacin for 38 yards before plunging his way into the end zone to give the Stamps their first touchdown of the evening.

A missed point after attempt by Mexico’s Oscar Hugo Silva would be made up for on the ensuing kickoff, booting the ball deep into the Riders end zone to claim the single, his first point in his Canadian career.

First-year head coach Craig Dickenson elected to not dress projected starting quarterback for the Riders Zach Collaros, putting Cody Fajardo in as the starting pivot for the Green and White.

Stephen McAdoo’s offence took much of the first quarter to get their bearings in check, not making it past midfield until the final minute of the opening quarter.

The Riders maintained that forward momentum into the second quarter, advancing the ball down to the Calgary goal line, however, the Stamps defensive unit buckled down to put a halt to that progression, keeping the Riders empty-handed on the scoresheet.

David Watford would be the next quarterback up for the Riders, taking duties from Fajardo after the 27-year-old went 10 of 12 attempts and passing for 73 yards.

Following a Riders fumble which resulted in the loss of possession, Calgary continued to blank the Riders for the first half of play, all while Arbuckle played the entire first half of the game behind centre for the Stamps. During his time on the field, Arbuckle completed eight of his 13 pass attempts for 131 yards and a touchdown.

With just over a couple minutes remaining in the second quarter, Arbuckle further extended his team’s lead by connecting with Griff Whalen on an 18-yard completion down the middle of the end zone, pushing Calgary ahead 17-0.

Felix Menard-Briere got the Riders on the board before the final seconds ticked off the clock in the opening half, though not as he may had hoped, getting a single point off of a wide field goal attempt.

Dangerous dual-threat quarterback Watford kept himself within the tackles for much of his time spent on the field, but that wouldn’t keep him out of trouble as he would look deep early in the third quarter. The Riders quarterback found his pass dropping in the hands of the wrong team as De’Chavon Hayes picked off the Riders signal-caller.

Watford’s day finished with him passing for 68 yards and an interception while completing eight of his 12 pass attempts.

Entering the Stamps’ huddle in the third quarter, Montell Cozart, who joined the Stampeders last season, took over for Arbuckle. The former Boise State product progressed the offence upfield, eventually leading to a Gabriel Ferraro field goal from 26 yards out.

In the fourth quarter, Cozart connected with Western Michigan’s Daniel Braverman, who racked up the yards after the catch as he scrambled for a 56 yard gain. The play would set up a rushing touchdown by former Michigan State Spartan, Gerald Holmes — another Michigan school alumni.

The nail in the coffin was handed to the Roughriders in the form of linebacker Anthony Gore, who picked off Riders’ quarterback Ty Gangi late in the fourth quarter, wrapping things up for the Stampeders as Calgary would cross the finish line with a 37-1 victory.

Up next for the Stampeders, they’ll travel to Vancouver to take on the Lions next Friday. Meanwhile, the Roughriders will have less time to regroup before they play host to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday.

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