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With a 43-39 win over the out-of-town Ottawa RedBlacks, the Stampeders earned their first victory of the season in their 2017 home-opener.
The Stamps have now strung together 13 consecutive victories in the regular season and playoffs at McMahon Stadium and remain undefeated in their four-game history versus Ottawa on home-field.
“Every time I thought we had a little distance and we kind of had a chance to separate ourselves, they came right back,” said head coach Dave Dickenson. “Give them credit on that, but it was tough for us. We played a little bit sloppy again and I thought we had good rhythm early but we just kind of let them back and it was back-and-forth, back-and-forth. But I did not want to give them the ball back late and I was very aggressive on the play calls. I’m not sure our (defence) had anything left in the tank so our guys made plays and we won the game.”
Scoring plays for the visitors included field goals of 38, 18, 30 and 28 yards by Brett Maher. A 96-yard punt return touchdown courtesy of Diontae Spencer, TD catch-and-run by Brad Sinopoli, scamper by Mossis Madu and 65-yard catch by Spencer were also added on.
As for the Stamps, their first points were put up when Kamar Jorden left his feet for a 15-yard catch over the goal line. Ensuring majors were tallied by sophomore receiver Marken Michel, reserve quarterback Andrew Buckley, linebacker Maleki Harris, kick returner Tunde Adeleke and Jorden once again.
On the opening play from scrimmage, Ottawa’s Trevor Harris hurled a pass deep downfield for a 59-yard gain by Greg Ellingson. Calgary countered when Lemar Durant’s catch for 34 yards on Calgary’s second series got the Red and White’s offence into a rhythm.
“I still think offensively, we need to be better,” Dickenson offered after narrowly escaping with the win. “We didn’t have many plays and I have to be honest – when you don’t get many plays, you don’t really set up other plays and it’s hard. But we kept getting some things on returns and defence and all that, but I don’t think our consistency is anywhere close to where it needs to be offensively.”
A key knockdown at the line by Alex Singleton concluded the first quarter and also brought up third down to halt an extended 12-play drive.
After the second stanza got underway, first-year Stampeders defensive lineman Kashawn Fraser stuffed Madu in the backfield and Micah Johnson brought down Harris on the very next play for the Stamps’ first sack of the season.
The next crowd-pleaser came when Charlie Power busted through for a fully-extended punt block to set up the Stamps with a first-and-goal scenario which resulted in the Paredes chip shot.
Sneaking around the pile and all the way down the sideline to pay dirt, Buckley then ran for a 60-yard score from short-yardage formation to kick things off in the third. Harris’ 46-yard fumble recovery off a jarring Singleton slam came shortly thereafter.
Calgary then had a special-teams touchdown of their own when Adeleke used his exceptional combination of speed and agility to run back a Maher punt for six points. It was the first-ever score for the third-round draft choice from May’s CFL Draft.
Diving to corral a Harris heave in the fourth, Ellingson’s snag enabled Madu to run in from 14 yards out on the very next down. Not to be outdone was Jorden, laying out for a reception of 48 yards when his unit returned to the field.
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell finished up 19-for-31 for 295 yards and found seven different receivers in the process.
“I think our offensive line showed pretty good but we’ve got some more injuries coming on there,” indicated Dickenson. “We need to grow and that’s fine because it’s Week 2. I hope we’re not playing our best football in Week 2. It sure seems to me got a long way to go if we really want to get to where we want to get to.”
A Week 3 matchup on Friday, July 7 will see the Stampeders will head to Investors Group Field for a date with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 6:30 p.m. MT.