CALGARY — After missing a 40-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, Tyler Crapigna regained his composure to lead the Calgary Stampeders to a 23-20 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The rookie kicker booted a pair of 42-yard field goals, the second with no time remaining on the clock, to lead the Stampeders to a thrilling CFL pre-season victory.
“I’ve been in some of these situations before, playing in the Vanier Cup a couple years ago, but I was happy just to get another chance to show what I can do out here,” said Crapigna, who kicked a 20-yard field goal in double overtime to lift the McMaster Marauders to a 41-38 win over the Laval Rouge et Or to win the 2011 Vanier Cup.
“You definitely don’t want to end on that missed field goal for sure. I was a little nervous, but I just kind of decided to take it slow and a lot of the guys were helping me.”
Winnipeg rallied from a pair of early 14-point deficits to take a 20-17 lead over Calgary before the Stampeders rallied for the victory in front of an announced crowd of 27,103 fans at McMahon Stadium. Playing their second game in six days, the Bombers also lost their pre-season opener at home to the Toronto Argonauts on Monday.
“This is worse, absolutely,” said Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea. “We had a chance to win it. We made enough mistakes that it didn’t allow us to win.”
Drew Tate and Bo Levi Mitchell split time at quarterback for Calgary in the first half. Tate completed 2-of-5 passes and ran for a one-yard touchdown, while Mitchell went 8-for-11 for 76 yards and also engineered a lengthy scoring drive.
Bryant Moriz and Rusty Smith also saw time under centre in the second half for the Stampeders. Smith tossed a key 26-yard completion to Damon McDaniel on the final drive of the game to help set up Crapigna’s game-winning field goal.
“That’s the bottom line to get this W,” said Damon McDaniel, who’s trying to earn a spot on the Stampeders at wide receiver to play alongside his older brother Marquay. “It’s all about this win. Whatever I can do to help this team win, I’ll do it. The game speed is a lot different from practice, so it’s something that I had to get used to. I just wanted to go out there and play fast and have fun.”
Starting Winnipeg quarterback Drew Willy completed 14-of-23 passes for 172 yards, but couldn’t find the end zone. Instead, the Bombers had to settle for three field goals and one single with Willy leading the offence.
Rookie quarterback Brian Brohm took over from Willy in the third quarter and engineered an 11-play, 77-yard drive that culminated with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Kelly.
Brett Maher and Lirim Hajrullahu both kicked a pair of field goals for the Bombers, while punter Mike Renaud kicked a 59-yard single.
Former Saskatchewan Roughrider Jock Sanders gave Calgary great field position with a 49-yard return of the opening kickoff. Just four plays later, Tate plunged into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown to cap off a four-play, 52-yard scoring drive.
With Mitchell in at quarterback, the Stampeders struck again at 14:35 of the opening quarter when Sanders scampered for an 18-yard touchdown. Mitchell completed four-of-five passes for 41 yards before Sanders completed the 59-yard drive with his TD run.
The Bombers finally got on the board at 3:22 of the second quarter when Maher connected on a field goal from 33 yards out. After Rene Paredes answered back with a 41-yard field goal for Calgary, Winnipeg rounded out the scoring in the first half with Renaud’s punt single followed by a 42-yard field goal by Hajrullahu.
Winnipeg started off the second half with consecutive 77-yard scoring drives as Hajrullahu booted a 14-yard field before Kelly hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Brohm.
“I love the way that we came out at the start of the second half,” O’Shea said. “They need to look at it and be pleased with that effort and correct the mistakes that were made. You can’t pat yourselves on the back for too long. You’ve got to appreciate that we did some good things in the second half, but we still didn’t do enough to win.”
The Bombers then went up 20-17 at 7:35 of the fourth quarter when Maher kicked a 26-yard field goal to cap off a 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive.
With 1:34 left in regulation, Crapigna kicked a 42-yard field goal to pull the Stampeders into a 20-20 tie before the rookie duplicated the feat as time ran out on the game.