EDMONTON — The Calgary Stampeders followed up their impressive Labour Day Classic performance with a thrilling victory on Saturday night, handing the Edmonton Eskimos their fourth straight loss in a 25-22 win at Commonwealth Stadium.
Things remained exciting to the very final moment, with both teams holding late leads before Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell led a 69-yard touchdown drive in the game’s final two minutes to secure his team’s seventh straight victory.
Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly had a big game in the air, racking up an incredible 461 passing yards while going over 350 yards for the fifth time this season. Brandon Zylstra led the way for Edmonton with 10 receptions for 187 yards, and Derel Walker made an impressive return to Edmonton by registering 95 total yards on the night, including a highlight-reel rushing touchdown.
Defense was the story early on in Week 12’s battle of Alberta, with both offensive units being held out of the end zone in the opening quarter. Calgary opened up the scoring with just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter after a high snap went past Eskimos’ punter Hugh O’Neill. The Stamps’ offense was set up with great field position in the red zone, where they capitalized on the opportunity and went up 3-0 after a 20-yard Rene Paredes field goal.
Derel Walker made his return to Edmonton after spending time with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Walker made his presence known early in the second quarter, registering his 200th career CFL catch. Walker helped take the Eskimos down the field in style, capping the impressive drive off with a 2-yard rushing score on a sweep play to the right.
Walker looked like a running back with the ball in his hands, breaking multiple tackles on the way to the end zone for his first career rushing touchdown.
The Eskimos’ offense continued to look solid after the Walker score, with Reilly spreading the ball around to his talented receiving corps. Reilly connected with Brandon Zylstra for 18 yards, and Duke Williams for 26 yards on a drive that saw Edmonton add to their lead with a 26-yard field goal from Chris Milo.
Calgary rallied back on the ensuing drive when Roy Finch took a carry for 18 yards and set Rene Paredes up for a 39-yard field goal, bringing the score to 9-6.
Momentum remained on the Stamps’ side after that, and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell silenced the Edmonton crowd when he found receiver Marken Michel for 48 yards down the left side of the field. The big play brought the ball all the way to the goal line, and quarterback Andrew Buckley finished the drive off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak to put the Stamps on top 12-9.
The Eskimos came out firing after the half, with Reilly connecting with Zylstra, Bowman, and Walker on the opening drive of the third quarter. Edmonton suffered a scare when Reilly was briefly removed from the game after taking a hard hit. But the Esks tied the game up a few plays later with a 21-yard Chris Milo field goal, and Reilly returned to the game on the Eskimos’ following drive.
The Stamps answered back once again on a drive that saw Bo Levi Mitchell hook up with the speedy Michel for another big gain of 24 yards. Buckley then found the end zone for the second time on the night, adding another 1-yard rushing touchdown to put Calgary up 18-12.
Reilly continued to throw the ball with efficiency after returning to the game. The quarterback reached 300 passing yards for the 7th time in 8 games after a huge 67-yard completion to Zylstra near the end of the third quarter. Zylstra created major separation down the field, and Reilly stepped up and let it fly to set Edmonton up with brilliant field position.
The Stampeders’ defense appeared to force a turnover on the next play, however, when a Reilly throw was ruled to be intercepted in the end zone by Calgary defensive back Ciante Evans. Fortunately for Edmonton, the play was overturned after it was determined upon further review that the ball hit the ground. Edmonton retained possession and Chris Milo added his third field goal of the game to cut Calgary’s lead in half.
The Eskimos’ defense stepped up in a big way on the next drive, responding with a timely interception after surrendering a 36-yard pass to Calgary receiver Juwan Brescacin. Edmonton linebacker Adam Koner picked off the short Mitchell throw in traffic, but Edmonton’s offence was unable to capitalize with points. The interception was only the 10th turnover for the Stamps’ offence this season.
Calgary’s offense was also held in check on the next drive when a Mitchell throw was picked off down the field by Edmonton safety Cauchy Muamba. The ball was given right back shortly after, however, as a Reilly deep pass was intercepted by Calgary defensive back Tommie Campbell. The interception was the 2nd of the season for Campbell.
After the exchange of defensive highlights, Reilly and the Eskimos’ offense made their way down the field on a 7-play 91-yard scoring drive. The Green and Gold quarterback connected with Walker and Zylstra before finding Duke Williams for the 33-yard go-ahead touchdown. Williams made several defenders miss, taking the ball 14 yards after the catch to put Edmonton up 22-18 with under two minutes left in the game.
Just when it seemed like the lead was safe, the Calgary offense began to storm back down the field. Mitchell made the Edmonton crowd nervous after finding receiver Anthony Parker for a pivotal 44-yard play deep down the field.
The Stamps took the final lead of the game a couple plays later when Mitchell hooked up with Marquay McDaniel for a 5-yard score with 39 seconds remaining, putting Calgary back on top 25-22. Mitchell appeared poised and in control, leading the Stamps’ offence on a 69-yard drive in just over a minute to regain the lead.
Edmonton appeared close to coming back once again, but their final drive fell just short after Chris Milo’s 46-yard field goal attempt went wide.
Next week’s action will see the Eskimos head to Toronto on Saturday, September 16th to take on the Argonauts, while Calgary will host the BC Lions at home later that night.