Calgary Stampeders complete incredible comeback against BC Lions, grab first win

CALGARY — Bo Levi Mitchell and Nick Arbuckle led the Calgary Stampeders to a fourth quarter comeback victory against the BC Lions on Saturday night, with the Stamps coming out on top 36-32 to grab their first win of the season.

The Lions’ defence managed to keep Mitchell and the Calgary passing game in check early on, but the quarterback got things going in the second half and finished with 252 passing yards and two touchdowns. Arbuckle entered the game in the fourth quarter to replace Mitchell after the quarterback left with an apparent shoulder injury, and the backup stepped up to complete all nine of his passes and lead the Stamps to a game-winning touchdown.

Stamps receiver Eric Rogers had a huge game with three touchdowns and 100 yards on nine catches, and Markeith Ambles led all receivers on the night with nine catches for 108 yards.

Penalties cost Calgary early on, with the Lions scoring three touchdowns off of roughing the passer, pass interference and roughing the kicker penalties.

Mike Reilly was extremely efficient and effective all night long for BC, completing 86 per cent of his passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns in the back-and-forth battle.

Running back John White also had a strong performance for the Lions, contributing 151 total yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Bryan Burnham chipped in 10 catches for 94 yards, while Lemar Durant finished with five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell looking downfield for a receiver Photo: Larry MacDougal

Stamps defensive back Tre Roberson appeared to continue his hot start to the season on the opening drive by grabbing his fourth interception and taking it to the end zone, but the scoring play was reversed after the Lions successfully challenged for a roughing the passer call. Reilly and the BC offence capitalized on the second opportunity with the quarterback throwing a 15-yard swing pass touchdown to running back John White on the very next play.

The milestone touchdown pass was the 150th of Reilly’s CFL career, and Reilly completed the two-point convert pass to receiver Jevon Cottoy on the following play to give BC the early 8-0 advantage.

The Lions added to their first quarter lead after a costly pass interference call against Calgary placed the ball on the one-yard line. Receiver Bryan Burnham drew the penalty by going up high for a pass while being double-covered in the end zone. BC made the most of the positive field position with White taking the short hand off and scoring his third touchdown of the season. Kicker Sergio Castillo added the extra point to put the Lions up 15-0.

Calgary got on the board just after the start of the second quarter when punter Rob Maver sent a kick through the end zone for a single point.

The Stamps were close to having a key defensive stop after a big sack from linebacker Wynton McManis forced BC to punt, but a roughing the kicker penalty extended the Lions’ drive. Reilly seized the opportunity provided by the Calgary penalty and added to his team’s lead with a beautiful 22-yard touchdown pass to receiver Lemar Durant on a deep out route.

Reilly stood tall and took a hit while making the touchdown throw, his thirteenth consecutive completion of the game. Castillo’s extra point attempt hit the upright, leaving the Lions with 21-1 lead.

Mitchell began to get things going for Calgary near the end of the second quarter, with the quarterback driving the Stamps’ offence down the field for five first downs and their best possession of the half. Mitchell completed key throws to receivers Michael Klukas, Reggie Begelton and Markeith Ambles before finding Eric Rogers for a three-yard touchdown pass. Calgary added the two-point convert with Ambles taking a short pass from Mitchell and fighting his way into the end zone, cutting BC’s lead down to 12 points.

But BC continued to move the ball on offence, and Reilly responded to the Calgary touchdown with another big drive. The Lions’ offence quickly drove down the field once again and was on the doorstep in position to score until a solid goal line stand from Calgary’s defensive front shut down the drive. Stamps defensive back Royce Metchie finished the drive off with a third down tackle to keep Reilly out of the end zone on a quarterback sneak, leaving BC with a 22-10 lead heading into half time.

The Lions managed to get some momentum back at the start the third quarter when defensive back Aaron Grymes made an impressive play to intercept Mitchell, but BC’s offence was unable to convert the turnover into points. The interception was the first for the Lions’ defence this season.

Calgary continued to chip away at the Lions’ lead with a 43-yard field goal from kicker Rene Paredes, making the score 22-13. But Reilly put distance between the two teams once again by responding with a field goal drive. Castillo made the 21-yard kick to put the Lions up 25-13 in the fourth quarter.

The Stamps found a big momentum boost after that when Mitchell found Rogers deep down the field for a 42-yard touchdown. Mitchell then completed another pass in traffic to Rogers for the two-point convert, cutting the BC lead down to just four points.

But Calgary simply could not find a way to slow down Reilly and the efficient BC offence. The quarterback put together a lengthy drive with sharp and accurate throws, leading his team down the field and finishing off the 12-play, 76-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run up the middle. Castillo added the extra point to put the Lions up 32-21.

Things took a bad turn for Calgary after that when Mitchell was forced to leave the game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. But Arbuckle came in at quarterback for the Stamps and led the team down the field with under two minutes to go. Arbuckle capped off the drive with a one-yard rushing score, and the quarterback completed the two-point convert pass to follow it up and make the score 32-28 with 1:20 remaining.

The Stamps then recovered an onside kick and proceeded to make magic happen once again on offence with Arbuckle. The quarterback capped off a beautiful drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Rogers to give Calgary its first and only lead of the game.

Week 4 will see the BC Lions face the Toronto Argonauts on the road next Saturday, while the Calgary Stampeders will be on the road against the Saskatchewan Roughriders next Saturday.

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