September 3, 2018

Labour Yay!

The game was on the line.

One kick to win it all.

No surprise that Rene Paredes came up clutch.

The veteran nailed a 43-yard field-goal with no time left on the clock as the Stamps won their seventh straight Labour Day Classic, defeating the Edmonton Eskimos 23-20 in front of 32,013 fans at McMahon Stadium Monday afternoon.

The Stamps took possession with 1:04 remaining in the game, and after seven plays Paredes’ fifth field-goal of the day was the deciding factor.

“Rene can make it from anywhere,” said quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. “He’s made so many big ones for us in the past, there’s so much trust we have in him.

“Before that drive I walked over and he said ‘just get me there’. And I said ‘you know I will, I’ll get you there, you put it in,’ and that’s exactly what happened.”

“I have a lot of faith in that guy,” echoed head coach Dave Dickenson. “He’s been money for years.”

The game was, like many previous installments of the Battle of Alberta, a nail-biter.

“We love playing the best teams, and Edmonton’s always up there,” Mitchell said “You don’t play for blowouts – you play football for grinding things out, playing through things, having to put your fingers in the dirt, wipe some blood off your face, and go out there and get a win.”

The Eskimos tallied the first points of the afternoon, as Sean Whyte capped off their first drive of the game with an 11-yard field-goal.

Paredes evened the score on the following series with a lengthy 50-yard boot.

A 19-yard touchdown from Daniels and a convert from Paredes on the last drive of the quarter gave the Red & White a 10-3 lead to close out the first frame.

C.J. Gable was quick to answer back, punching the ball in after Nick Usher returned a fumble 40 yards to the 10-yard line to set up the score.

Paredes nailed his second field-goal of the day on the next drive to give the Stamps a three-point cushion but Duke Williams hauled in a 45-yard pass for a major to give the visitors a 17-13 lead at the half.

A homeside point was added midway through the third after the Eskimos conceded a single following a field-goal attempt from Paredes that went wide right.

Shortly after, backup quarterback Nick Arbuckle made a short cameo in the game, when Mitchell left the field briefly after being hurt when he was sacked with 4:25 remaining in the third.

Following an interception from Ciante Evans, Arbuckle would throw for 17 yards on his lone drive of the night – setting Paredes up for another field-goal to tie the game at 17 heading into the final frame.

“The fans were really into it,” Dickenson explained. “Great fan support, it was loud crowd, and I think our defence fed off of that.

“Really turnovers is what it came down to, our D was able to get the ball out of their hands numerous, numerous times, get the interception, and that was the difference in the game.”

Mitchell wouldn’t be out for long, though, as he returned after just 4:43 of play.

“I’m a machine, you’re not taking me out of this game unless you kill me,” Mitchell said. “I told my guys before the game, everybody on this team, we’ve got to give them everything we have. As soon as the doctor said nothing was wrong there was no way you were keeping me out of that game.”

After a back-and-forth battle in the fourth, Brandon Smith would force a fumble resulting in a 42-yard field-goal from Paredes, giving the Stamps a 20-17 upper hand with 4:59 left of play.

However, Whyte wasted no time tying the game up at 20 with a 43-yard kick the next series, before the Paredes game-winning boot.

Mitchell went 16-for-30 and threw for 225 yards in the victory, Don Jackson rushed for 115 yards on 17 carries, DaVaris Daniels led all pass-catchers with seven receptions for 116 yards, while Alex Singleton topped Stamps defenders with 11 tackles.

It’ll be a quick turnaround for both squads as the Stamps look to sweep the season series this Saturday when they to Edmonton for a rematch with the Eskimos.

“Win or lose you’re just as sore,” Dickenson said. “If you can come out on top you can recover faster…hopefully that helps us next week.”