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September 28, 2018

PLAYOFF SPOT CLINCHED

Playoffs baby!

The Stampeders became the first CFL team to clinch a post-season berth with a 38-16 win over the Toronto Argonauts Friday night, improving to 11-2 in front of 24,126 fans at McMahon Stadium.

“(Playoffs) are a great accomplishment, especially at week 13,” said head coach Dave Dickenson. “If you’re in the dance, you’ve got a chance to win it.”

After a tight first half that saw a downpour to start the game, the Stampeders piled up 24 points in the second half propelling them to victory.

“I’m going to give our coaches credit for coming up with adjustments at half,” Dickenson said. “Finding ways to either shut them down, or finding ways to come up with plays to work against the other team.

“Our players need to take the credit too, they’re taking the coaching and making the plays on the field, a lot of belief that we’re going to win and we’ve just been rolling along.”

Bo Levi Mitchell went 20-for-34 and threw for 307 yards in the game, improving his record to 10-0 against the Argos in regular-season play.

An impressive game for the quarterback given the fresh faces on the field at receiver after a season riddled with injuries.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Dickenson. “I do think our offensive line did a pretty good job giving him time, he’s finding the guys….I do think Bo is playing outstanding, 300 yards really with a bunch of guys he hadn’t been practicing with is pretty good.”

Markeith Ambles led all receivers with three receptions for 69 yards, and Alex Singleton topped defenders with nine tackles.

The homeside got off to a quick start, scoring on their first drive of the night when Marken Michel rushed 37 yards for a touchdown. Kicker Rene Paredes’ point-after attempt would go wide-left.

It didn’t take long for the Argonauts to even the score, though. Quarterback James Franklin ran the ball two yards into the endzone to finish the following series. Zack Medeiros’ successful convert would give them an early 7-6 lead.

Two drives later, receiver Reggie Begelton suffered an injury, and did not return to the game.

“I don’t know how serious it is,” Dickenson said. “But I know what type of guy he is, and for him he looked like he was in a lot of pain.”

Then, the Red & White re-gained the lead with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter, after a great punt from Rob Maver and strong Stamps defence resulted in Toronto conceding a safety to make it 8-7.

Paredes would open the second quarter with a 13-yard field-goal for the Stamps, pushing their lead to 11-7.

Medeiros then narrowed the gap for the Argos with a 29-yard field-goal with 2:19 remaining in the second quarter.

Calgary would answer back with another field-goal from Paredes, giving the Stamps a four point lead to close out the half.

“I feel like we kicked like seven field-goals,” Mitchell said. “It was frustrating because we drive the ball down with ease, and then we get to the eight-yard line and don’t score.

“But when injuries happen, none of those guys had any reps of any of those plays (in the red zone) tonight so it’s not easy for them, and I have to adjust on the fly.”

And while the Stampeders’ depth was once again tested, their ‘next men up’ were up to the challenge.

A great 40-yard pass from Mitchell connected with Julan Lynch on the first Red & White series in the third, putting Paredes in position for a 14-yard field-goal to make it 17-10.

“We have faith in our guys, and the other guys stepped up,” Mitchell said. “Julan doesn’t get a lot of reps, he does a lot of scout team and special teams, and he was ready to go and he came in and made some big plays tonight.”

Just under three minutes later, an interception from Brandon Smith set the Stamps up for another score. Nick Arbuckle would rush two yards for the major three plays into the drive to make it 24-10.

“Credit to the defence,” Mitchell said. “The game was tight until they got the pick down about the eight-or-ten yard line and we ran it in. After that, we ran away with it, so I think we took the wind out of their sails there.”

The Stamps opened with a scoring drive once again on their first series of the final frame, as Michel tallied his second touchdown of the evening with a 21-yard reception.

Seven minutes later, Juwan Brescacin piled onto their monster second half with his first touchdown of the evening.

The Argos would score a touchdown in the final seconds of the game as McLeod Bethel-Thompson ran one yard to the endzone.

Next up the Stampeders head to Montreal to take on the Alouettes on Oct. 8.