VANCOUVER — The Calgary Stampeders emerged victorious from a defensive battle royale at BC Place on Friday night, as they claimed a 21-17 decision over the hometown BC Lions.
Fresh off the injured list, D-end Ja’Gared Davis was one of numerous defensive standouts in the win for Calgary (6-1-1), recording six tackles and a blocked punt, while star linebacker Alex Singleton registered a team-high eight tackles and an interception.
Stamps running back Jerome Messam racked up 69 punishing yards, breaking the 5,000-yard mark on his career in the process, and a touchdown on the ground prior to leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell completed an uncharacteristically-low 48 per cent of his passes for 237 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, while BC (5-4) pivot Jonathon Jennings threw for 240 yards, one touchdown and two picks in the loss.
The visitors opened the scoring on the first possession of the night, as Rene Paredes split the uprights from 38 yards out to give Calgary a 3-0 lead.
Both Mitchell and Jennings were nearly intercepted on their first possessions; the latter was picked off on BC’s second possession, as his pass intended for Jeremiah Johnson was tipped and caught by Stamps linebacker Alex Singleton. The BC defense made a stand and limited Calgary to another Paredes field goal — this time from 29 yards — which made it 6-0.
The Lions’ first-quarter woes continued; Ty Long‘s punt was blocked by Ja’Gared Davis in the Calgary D-end’s first action since Week 1, and Charleston Hughes recovered the loose ball to again give the Stamps good field position.
After a near-interception from BC’s Loucheiz Purifoy on the goal line, Calgary was yet again forced to settle for a field goal: Paredes’s 17-yard effort extended the visitors’ lead to 9-0.
Both offenses struggled to find a rhythm in the first half; Mitchell and the Stamps failed to take advantage of solid field position, while Jennings and the Leos managed just one first down in the first 25 minutes of play.
The Lions woke up late in the second quarter, as Jennings capped their first prolonged drive of the night with a one-yard rush touchdown. The BC pivot then zipped the two-point convert to Chris Williams, and the Leos had clawed back to within a single point.
Momentum swung even further in the hosts’ direction on the ensuing possession, as a distinctly sub-par read by Mitchell was picked by Purifoy near midfield; Jennings returned the favour one play later, as he was intercepted by Calgary’s Ciante Evans.
At the half, the Stamps led 9-8 on the trio of Paredes field goals despite Mitchell’s disappointing 6-for-19—0 TD—1 INT stat line.
The Lions took their first lead of the night midway through the third quarter, when Jennings found Chris Rainey, who in turn slashed and dashed his way to the end zone. Long’s convert went wide left, and BC’s lead stood at 14-12.
Calgary regained the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Messam took a hand-off from the two-yard line and battered his way into the end zone. The Stamps’ subsequent two-point convert attempt fell incomplete, and the visitors led 18-14.
A 28-yard field goal from Long on the next possession cut BC’s deficit to one with nine minutes to play, but a Paredes 27-yard boot with 2:37 remaining restored Calgary’s four-point lead.
The Stamps thought they had secured the win with two minutes left, as Jameer Thurman recovered a fumble by Lions receiver Maurice Morgan. After review, the ruling on the field was overturned — the play called an incompletion — and BC was forced to punt.
The Leos dramatically forced a two-and-out and got the ball back with 1:26 to play; Rob Maver’s punt was returned 29 yards by Chris Rainey, who was tripped up only by a desperate Maver at the Calgary 46-yard line.
Jennings and co. marched down to the Calgary 29, but a crucial 3rd-and-4 completion to Manny Arceneaux came up inches short of the first-down stick, sealing the win for the Stamps.
The Lions will look to regroup ahead of a cross-country trip to the nation’s capital for a Week-10 visit to the Ottawa REDBLACKS (2-6-1), while Calgary will return home to host the Toronto Argonauts (3-5).