CALGARY – The Calgary Stampeders made a statement on Labour Day Weekend, winning their sixth game in a row and beating the rival Edmonton Eskimos 39-18 at McMahon Stadium.
With first place on the line, the crucial West Division matchup sent the Esks (7-3) to their third straight loss while the Stamps improved to 8-1-1.
Bo Levi Mitchell tossed 277 passing yards and a pick while Mike Reilly threw for 320 yards and added a pair of interceptions and touchdown passes.
Calgary scored on the opening possession and got it done in all three facets of the game, holding off a brief fourth quarter Eskimos comeback.
DaVaris Daniels started the game with a 45-yard gain to get the Stamps offense rolling right off the bat. Right outside of the redzone, a Jerome Messam rush moved the ball further but Calgary would settle for the field goal and the 3-0 lead.
The Stamps defence continued to carry the early momentum. After an offside call gave the Esks a first down, Brandon Smith got the ball back for Calgary by forcing a Cory Watson fumble that was recovered by the home team. Working back on offence, Mitchell found Anthony Parker open outside the goal line before Messam rumbled his way to the end zone for the touchdown. Roy Finch caught the two-point conversion as the Stamps lead grew to 11-0.
First down grabs by Brandon Zylstra and Adarius Bowman kept the chains moving as Edmonton looked to put some points on the board. A 14-yard rush from Ladarius Perkins put the Esks past midfield and a Kenny Stafford reception moved them into scoring territory. Chris Milo booted a 22-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 11-3.
Marquay McDaniel’s 23-yard gain closed out the first quarter. The Stamps drive continued with a Julan Lynch grab before Parker’s 24-yard sweep rush scored another touchdown and increased the Calgary lead to 18-3.
While trading possessions, the Stamps defense maintained their pressure on Reilly and the Esks offense throughout. On an Edmonton punt, Roy Finch had a case of déjà vu to last year’s Labour Day game, returning the kick 90 yards to the endzone as it was 25-3 with just over six minutes remaining in the first half.
Opting for the short game, the Esks chipped their way downfield with a series of small rushes and passes. Milo kicked a 46-yard field goal to end the drive.
Calgary added a single on a Paredes missed 42-yard field goal attempt as the Stamps carried a 26-6 lead into halftime.
The Esks did not get off to a good start in the second half as Reilly was intercepted by Shaq Richardson on the second play of the drive. Messam immediately punched in his second major of the game as Stamps lead quickly grew to 33-6.
Just outside of the three-minute warning and still pressing for points, things did not get any better for the Esks. Richardson jumped a pass route and secured his second interception of the game, again putting the Stamps in instant scoring territory. Paredes notched another field goal to grow Calgary’s lead.
Edmonton opened the fourth quarter with short passes and rushes to work their way towards the endzone. They capitalized with a Kenny Stafford touchdown but could not convert on the two-point attempt as the score sat at 36-12.
The Stamps didn’t look done on offense as Mitchell found Daniels 46 yards downfield on the next possession. Now looking at scoring territory, Mitchell’s throw was intercepted by Forrest Hightower as Edmonton went back to work offensively. Reilly rushed 22 yards past midfield and then found Zylstra 41 yards downfield for the touchdown but again were unsuccessful on the two-point convert attempt, still trailing 36-18.
A 22-yard gain by Marken Michel kept the Stamps offense moving as the clock began winding down to under three minutes. Paredes kicked another field goal to put the Stamps back up 39-18 and secured the victory by forcing a late turnover on downs.
Next week, the two clubs face off in a rematch at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.