THE CANADIAN PRESS
WINNIPEG -- Keon Raymond prayed for sure hands before the Calgary Stampeders' game against unbeaten Winnipeg. He then went out and turned the tide against the Blue Bombers with a couple of huge defensive plays.
The Calgary Stampeders fourth-year defensive back returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown and made a timely fumble recovery that helped the Stampeders defeat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 21-20 on Thursday.
“My prayer before every game is, 'Please God, allow me to get my hands on the ball and do something,’” Raymond said.
“He's come through every time.”
The victory improved Calgary's record to 2-1 and gave Winnipeg (2-1) its first loss of the season.
The Blue Bombers lost more than the game. Starting quarterback Buck Pierce didn't play in the second half because of an injury to the quadriceps muscle in his left leg. He was replaced by Joey Elliott and wasn't available for comment after the game.
Winnipeg looked like it would be adding to a 20-14 lead with less than five minutes to play, but a fumble turned the tide.
The Bombers were at Calgary's 42-yard line when receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris was hit hard by rookie defensive back Demetrice Morley.
Jeffers-Harris fumbled the ball and Raymond picked it up, running 42 yards before Elliott stopped him at Winnipeg's 31-yard line.
Stamps quarterback Henry Burris threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Ken-Yon Rambo at 12:01 to take the 21-20 lead in front of 27,890 fans at Canad Inns Stadium.
Bomber placekicker Justin Palardy attempted a 44-yard field goal into the wind with 24 seconds left, but went wide.
“(Morley) hit me and I wasn't strong enough to hang on to the ball,” Jeffers-Harris said. “It was a good hit.”
But it was a lousy way to lose a game that was within their grasp.
“It's the most frustrating way to end a game,” Jeffers-Harris said, adding the only thing to be proud of was they played hard till the end.
Pierce left the game at halftime after completing 9-of-16 passes for 149 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown throw to Terrence Edwards. Elliott was 10-of-18 for 87 yards.
In his last 30 games, Pierce has left the game 11 times because of injury.
Burris completed 17-of-32 passes for 183 yards, one TD and no interceptions.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight, but we've got to do a better job on our side on offence and not make it that close,” Burris said.
Raymond's fumble recovery was an unexpected gift.
``That was huge,' Burris said. ``We knew at some point we were going to get the ball back, but to get the ball back in that situation right there, we were definitely licking our chops.
“But we just settled down. Guys stayed calm. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game.”
Winnipeg scored its touchdowns off a 49-yard catch-and-run play by Edwards in the second quarter and a one-yard plunge by quarterback Alex Brink in the third.
Palardy booted a 34-yard field goal and punter Mike Renaud had a single. Calgary punter Burke Dales conceded a safety to round out Winnipeg's scoring.
Raymond raced 66 yards for a TD after intercepting Pierce in the second quarter.
Kicker Rene Paredes booted field goals from 37 and 18 yards and Dales added a punt single.
Renaud scored the only point of the first quarter with a 50-yard single at 4:38.
The Bombers had an 11-7 lead at halftime and were ahead 20-10 going into the fourth.
“Our defence played great, put us in a great situation to win the football game,” Elliott said. “We just came up a few plays short offensively.”
The Bomber defence sacked Burris four times, while Pierce and Elliott were each sacked once.
Winnipeg finished with 333 yards of net offence, compared to Calgary's 237 yards.
Bomber running back Fred Reid had 17 carries for 87 yards, while Stamps tailback Joffrey Reynolds ran seven times for 40 yards.
Winnipeg wide receiver Cory Watson led all receivers with six catches for 98 yards.
Defensive back Brandon Smith intercepted Pierce late in the second quarter, but the turnover ended with Paredes going wide on a 41-yard field-goal attempt.
Both teams blocked kicks in the first half.
The Bombers forced their 11th turnover of the season when defensive end Odell Willis caused Burris to fumble and Dorian Smith recovered the ball.
Winnipeg drove into Stampeder territory, but Palardy's 38-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Calgary defensive back Johnnie Dixon.
Paredes previously lined up for a 28-yard attempt in the second quarter, but defensive end Kenny Mainor made the block.
A pass-interference call on the Stampeders helped lead to Brink's one-yard TD at 10:51 of the third to double the score 20-10.
Notes: Winnipeg also lost cornerback Alex Suber on the game-opening kickoff with a suspected head injury after he made a low hit on returner/receiver Johnnie Dixon.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|