CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders dominated the first 30 minutes against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders and took a 17-0 lead into halftime, but had to grit their teeth through a second-half comeback attempt before pulling away for a 27-10 victory.
The Stamps (3-1-1) were nothing short of monstrous out of the gate, limiting Saskatchewan (1-3) to just three first downs and recording five sacks in the first half, but the visitors stormed back valiantly to make it a single-score game in the fourth quarter.
Calgary power back Jerome Messam led the charge on the ground for the Stamps with 135 rush yards and a game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter, while Charleston Hughes recorded a ‘sack-trick’ on the defensive side of the ball in the win.
Riders quarterback Kevin Glenn wrote his name in CFL history books in the losing effort, as his 203-yard passing performance made him the 7th quarterback in league history to break the 50,000-yard passing mark.
The Stamps opened the scoring on a 23-yard Rene Paredes field goal that capped a lengthy 12-play drive made all the longer by a trio of coach challenges — all three of which were successful.
After the Calgary defense forced a two-and-out on the following Saskatchewan possession, Mitchell aired out the first play of the new series to Marquay McDaniel for a 44-yard touchdown. Paredes then drilled the convert to push the Stamps lead to 10, where it would stay through the end of the first quarter.
Charleston Hughes announced his presence with authority in the second quarter, when — after Mitchell was intercepted by Sam Williams — he regained Calgary’s momentum with a violent sack on Glenn.
The first half’s all-Stamps theme continued, as Messam and Mitchell marched the Stamps into the end zone on a seven-play, 76-yard drive polished off by a 19-yard Mitchell-to-Kamar Jorden touchdown. The subsequent Paredes convert then gave Calgary the 17-0 lead it would take into halftime.
Saskatchewan emerged from the locker room a different team in the third quarter; after Glenn completed six of seven attempts, Riders running back Cameron Marshall forged his way into the Calgary end zone from five yards out. Tyler Crapigna then added a convert to cut the Stampeder lead to 10.
Glenn began to find favoured targets Naaman Roosevelt and Bakari Grant late in the third quarter, and the second play of the fourth quarter saw Crapigna split the uprights from 27 yards out to cut the Calgary lead to seven.
The Stampeder offence somewhat turned the tide on the ensuing drive, with Mitchell marching his team up to the Saskatchewan 35 before the Rider defence forced a field-goal attempt. After a Shane Bergman penalty pushed the Calgary offence back five yards, Paredes proved up to the task with a critical 47-yard field goal to restore the 10-point Stamps lead.
That field goal, coupled with a later 39-yard punt return by a clutch Roy Finch, stifled the Saskatchewan momentum and essentially killed the comeback attempt.
Five plays after Finch’s return set them up with quality field possession, the Stamps sealed the win with a one-yard Messam plunge into the end zone. The Paredes convert rounded out the night’s scoring and pushed the final to 27-10.
Beyond Hughes and his three sacks, James Vaughters also dominated — largely in the first half — on the Calgary D-line en route to a pair of sacks, while Saskatchewan linebacker Henoc Muamba paced all players with nine all-purpose tackles.
The Stamps will now have a week off to prepare for another home contest in a week’s time, when they will host the winless Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-4) on Saturday, while the Riders will return home to face the Toronto Argonauts (2-2) on the same day.