TORONTO — The Calgary Stampeders dominance continued on Thursday night at BMO Field, defeating the Toronto Argonauts 41-24.
Four different Stampeders found the end zone in the victory – Jerome Messam rushed in a major score, DaVaris Daniels caught one while Marquay McDaniel caught two through the air and Roy Finch returned a punt 103 yards to the house. Finch’s punt return was his second in as many weeks – the first was a 97-yard return last week against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Bo Levi Mitchell completed 19 of 24 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
With the win, Calgary has won three games in a row and improved their record to 5-1-1 – their only loss coming in Week 4 against the Montreal Alouettes.
After returning to the lineup from injury, Ray got Brandon Whitaker got into the game right away, giving him the ball on the first play for a three-yard gain. But the Argos couldn’t get anything going on their opening drive and Lirim Hajrullahu had to punt the ball away.
But Toronto wasn’t ready to give the ball to the Stampeders just yet.
Cameron Walker recovered a Finch fumble on the Stamps’ opening punt return to bring the Argos offence right back on the field.
S.J. Green cashed in on the turnover, catching his third touchdown of the season. The 10-yard pass from Ray was the Argonauts pivot’s 10th of the season. With Hajrullahu’s convert, the Argos took an early 7-0 lead just five minutes into the contest.
Messam pushed his way into the end zone for Calgary’s opening score of the game just two minutes after Green’s, tying things up at seven. Aided by a pass interference penalty – one that Argos head coach Marc Trestman unsuccessfully challenged – the Stampeders moved down to the Argonauts five-yard line to set up Messam’s score.
The Stampeders got their first lead of the evening thanks to a Rene Paredes 18-yard field goal with just under two minutes left in the first quarter. Mitchell moved his offence 52 yards down the field to set up the score and was good on all four of his passes to McDaniel, Lamar Durant, and Messam on the drive.
Durant left the field after that drive and would not return to action for the rest of the contest.
Just when it looked like the Argonauts were starting to move the chains down the field to end the first quarter – Ray started to connect with Anthony Coombs and Khalil Paden – the Stampeders stopped them right in their tracks.
Then Finch made up for his misstep earlier in the game, returning Hajrullahu’s punt 103 yards to score. That punt return touchdown was Finch’s second of the season (his first was a 97-yarder last week against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats) to extend the Stampeders lead to 17-7 early in the second quarter.
After both teams traded unsuccessful drives, Ray threw his first interception of the contest at 7:44 of the second quarter – his fourth interception of the season. Jameer Thurman picked off the Toronto pivot giving the Stampeders another opportunity to add to their lead.
Bear Woods, aided by Marcus ball, completely stopped Messam in his tracks on first and 10, helping to stop the Stampeders from potentially scoring another major. The visiting team settled for three points after Paredes made his 29-yard field goal attempt with just under four minutes left in the first half.
With time running out in the second quarter, Ray began to move his team down the field in hopes of adding a score before half time. He tossed a 31-yard pass to Paden and then a nine-yarder to Green to move the Argos into Stampeders territory.
Charleston Hughes continued his dominance on opposing quarterbacks, forcing Ray to fumble the ball on the Calgary 22-yard line and Micheal Kashak recovered, bringing Mitchell and co. back onto the field with 1:30 left in the first half.
But just when things were starting to go Calgary’s way once again, Messam fumbled the ball himself (his third fumble of the season) and Troy Davis recovered it, bringing Toronto right back to the gridiron.
Toronto couldn’t find the end zone on the drive so they settled for a 20-yard field goal from Hajrullahu, cutting the Stampeders lead to 20-10.
The Stampeders weren’t finished yet as Mitchell tossed a 44-yard pass to DaVaris Daniels with just one second left on the clock before half time (27-19).
Calgary started the second half the way they finished the first, scoring a touchdown.
This time it was McDaniel who caught a nine-yard pass from Mitchell deep in the end zone for the score. With Paredes’ completed convert kick, the Stampeders extended their lead to 34-10 early in the third quarter.
Calgary’s defence continued their hold over the Argos’ offence as the third frame started to wind down and Cody Fajardo stepped in at quarterback in place of Ray who left with an apparent injury. Ray finished the night connecting on 15 of 26 passes for 139 yards and one touchdown.
Fajardo moved the chains down the field 36 yards into field goal range where Hajrullahu split the uprights. The 31-yard field goal cut the Stampeders’ lead to 34-13 with less than a minute left in the third frame.
Calgary found the end zone once again in the fourth quarter. Mitchell moved down the field 51 yards and tossed a 10-yard pass to McDaniel for the receiver’s second touchdown of the night. The score, combined with Paredes’ convert kick, extended Calgary’s lead to 41-13.
Hajrullahu got the Argos on the board in the fourth quarter with a 43-yard field goal, cutting the Stampeders lead to 41-16.
Fajardo ran into the end zone just as time expired to score a major to cut the Stamps’ lead to 41-24 as Coombs caught the two-point convert.
The Toronto Argonauts head to Montreal next week to take on the Alouettes while the Calgary Stampeders will spend Week 8 on the bye.