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August 26, 2017

Stamps first in the West with win over Argos

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, centre, runs the ball during first half CFL action against the Toronto Argonauts in Calgary on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. (CFL PHOTO - Larry MacDougal)

Despite a slow start, the final team to remain perfect at home kept a good thing going on Saturday night.

Moving to 4-0 at the friendly confines of McMahon Stadium, the Stamps improved to 7-1-1 overall and took over first place in the West Division with a 23-7 victory. Toronto dropped to 4-6.

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 383 yards in the winning effort while Brandon Whitaker of the Argonauts had only six rushes for 15 yards.

“There were some ups and downs and it was a little bit choppy,” said head coach Dave Dickenson following the victory. “But defensively, to do that against a great group with great receivers and a great quarterback and a well-coached team, our defence stepped up big-time. In the CFL when you don’t give up any points, that’s very, very impressive. Now on to the next challenge, but the defence certainly led the way.”

The game’s initial touchdown came courtesy of a Cassius Vaughn interception which was returned 115 yards to pay dirt. Bo Levi Mitchell was unable to connect with his intended receiver in the end zone, therefore enabling the Argos to find the scoreboard instead.

Midway through the second quarter, DaVaris Daniels recorded his third TD of the season as the second-year pass-catcher fended off rookie Brandon Harris just inside the pilon. However, Rene Paredes was unable to tie the score as his convert attempt was wide right.

On the final play before the break, the Stampeders engineered a five-play, 38-yard drive capped off by Paredes’ 40-yard kick for Calgary’s first lead of the game.

Toronto had tallied just 87 yards at that point while the Stamps – despite just nine points – accumulated a total of 228 yards in advance of jogging off to the locker room.

Calgary next scored in the third when Daniels, in one-on-one coverage, leapt over his defender for a 38-yard major. The wideout would conclude the evening as the matchup’s leading receiver with eight catches for 114 yards.

“We didn’t play very efficient but I felt we were running pretty fast,” Dickenson stated. “I thought DaVaris had a good game and Bo was slinging it, but he was getting some pressure and our run game wasn’t up to par so we’ll have to be better there.”

Adding a three-point boot later in the period was Paredes after Jerome Messam’s 25-yard rush helped put the special teams unit into position. By splitting the uprights on that occasion, Paredes moved into second place in franchise history with his 283rd career field goal.

Ja’Gared Davis would get home to bring down Ricky Ray before later stuffing James Wilder, Jr. on second-and-short in an otherwise quiet opening frame for both offensive units. The Stampeders totaled three sacks in their Week 10 performance as Davis and Micah Johnson later got to Ray on back-to-back snaps.

A valiant effort defensively, including five pass knockdowns, limited the Argos to their lowest point total in 2017.

“The front-end was good and I thought we pressured them,” praised Dickenson. “Our DBs seemed to at least be in the area code, but I was more impressed with how we fought for jump-balls. They kind of were throwing balls up and our guys were making the plays so I thought our DBs did a great job.”

Immediately following the earlier pick-six, Mitchell and McDaniel were able to connect for a 23-yard pickup. A sideline snag from Juwan Brescacin and a diving dig via Daniels set up No. 89’s first touchdown catch from 21 yards out.

Jameer Thurman’s quarterback pressure coupled with Ciante Evans’ third-down tackle in the fourth forced a turnover on downs for the Argonauts to all but end the comeback attempt.

Concluding the scoring was Paredes from 32 yards out with 1:14 to go.

Labour Day Monday will mark the next appearance for the Stamps when the Edmonton Eskimos come to Calgary on Sept. 4 in the season’s first edition of the hotly-contested Battle of Alberta.