CALGARY -- Bo Levi Mitchell hit Marquay McDaniel for a 15-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, as the Stamps earned a thrilling 26-22 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night at McMahon Stadium.
Mitchell finished with 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns while overcoming two interceptions to improve to 3-0 in his young career, while Maurice Price and McDaniel each caught a touchdown pass to lead the Red and White to a clutch win.
Henry Burris became just the fifth player in CFL history to eclipse 50,000 passing yards in the loss, while throwing for 408 yards and a pair of touchdown passes.
Running back C.J. Gable, meanwhile, went over 100 yards receiving for the second straight game, finishing the night with 161 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, including 108 through the air.
Facing a second-and-long on the game’s opening possession, Burris delivered in the face of pressure from Charleston Hughes with a 28-yard completion to Greg Ellingson over the middle of the field.
After another first down completion to Gable for 14 yards, Burris saved the best of the drive for last. Fantuz cut across the middle of the field on a crossing route and made a one-handed grab, turning on the after burners for a 37-yard touchdown.
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» Preview: Hamilton at Calgary
That capped off a lightning-fast four-play, 79-yard scoring drive for the Ticats, giving them a 7-0 lead on the road to open the ball game.
The Stamps looked to be ready to respond, starting with a long kickoff return followed by a 19-yard run on second-and-long by the elusive Mitchell, but on the very next play the young pivot was picked off by linebacker Brandon Isaac.
Unlike on the opening drive, however, the Stamps defence would step up as Mitchell tried to find his way. After a quick two-and-out, Luca Congi stepped in to attempt a 47-yard field goal, but pushed it wide left.
Kick returner extraordinaire Larry Taylor showed exactly why it’s so dangerous to attempt those long field goals, catching the miss at the back of the end zone and evading several defenders on the way to a 103-yard missed field goal return into Hamilton territory.
But with favourable starting field position, Calgary’s red zone challenges from the previous game carried over to Friday night, as the team fell just short on second down, leading to a 13-yard field goal from Rene Paredes to cut the early deficit to 7-3.
Late in the quarter after pinning the Ticats deep in their own end and getting a two-and-out defensively, the Stamps started their next drive with excellent field position for the second time this game.
Cornish moved the Stamps into close range with a 16-yard run, but for the second time this game the Stamps were forced to settle for a short field goal as Paredes booted a 29-yarder through the uprights, making it an 8-6 Ticats lead.
The Stamps would get a third chance to strike in close soon after however. After another quick stop by the Calgary defence, Taylor continued to be a handful for the Ticats special teams, this time with a 71-yard punt return deep into Hamilton territory.
This time the Stamps weren’t forced to try a field goal. On second-and-10, Mitchell was forced out of the pocket on a mad scramble, before having the ball knocked out of his hands by linebacker Jamall Johnson.
The loose ball was recovered by former Stampeder Brian Bulcke, turning over possession to the Ticats after another squandered opportunity by the Red and White.
Burris was able to move the ‘Cats out of trouble in their own end, but couldn’t muster up much more than that leading to a Josh Bartel punt.
That’s when the Stamps finally struck, exactly when least expected as Mitchell found Price behind coverage for an 80-yard touchdown pass, giving Calgary its first lead of the football game 13-8.
It wasn’t long before the Ticats fired back however, as the high-octane passing attack quickly went to work. Starting with a first down pass to Ellingson, Burris continued marching down the field with a completion to Moore, before two straight first down throws to Fantuz.
That would eventually lead to a 7-yard touchdown pass down at the goal line to Onrea Jones, giving the Ticats a 15-13 lead just in time for the end of the first half.
|Burris joins 50k club|
The touchdown also put Burris over 50,000 career passing yards, making him just the fifth quarterback in CFL history to eclipse the elusive mark. He joins Damon Allen, Ron Lancaster, Danny McManus, and current Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo as the only players in that club.
In the second half, the Ticats responded to an early two-and-out from their defence with yet another surge on offence. The drive started with a second-down conversion on a 22-yard completion to the shifty Tavoy Moore, and continued with three straight first downs to Gable, Ellingson, and Bakari Grant.
Finishing off the drive was the quick but powerful Gable, who charged through defenders for a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Ticats a 22-13 lead over the Stampeders midway through the third quarter.
The Stamps looked to be giving the ball right back to Burris on the ensuing drive, but a fake punt led to a long completion to Matt Walter, eventually leading to a 43-yard Paredes field goal to bring the Stamps to within six points.
Calgary quickly got the ball back looking to get move back in front, as Mitchell hooked up with McDaniel for two straight first down completions. Some physical inside running from Cornish as well as a first down run by Brad Sinopoli moved Calgary inside the 20-yard-line, but again the Stamps failed to convert for seven on a red zone opportunity.
Paredes added a chip shot from 24 yards out, moving the Stamps to within three points to start the fourth quarter.
After the teams exchanged two-and-outs, the Ticats had an opportunity to take a double-digit lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. Knocking on the door in the red zone though, Burris threw his 10th interception of the season into the hands of linebacker Alvin Bowen.
The Stampeders were forced to punt soon after, and the Ticats again moved downfield quickly on a 40-yard completion to Gable. But again, Hamilton couldn't come away with points from in deep, this time after a missed field goal from Congi off the right upright.
Down three points, the Stampeders took possession at their own 25 just ahead of the three-minute warning and from there worked quickly to move upfield. After moving the chains on a completion to Anthony Parker, it soon took a third down conversion from Mitchell to Sinopoli on a crossing route to move the Stamps into Hamilton territory.
Then on a second-down play, Dee Webb took a facemask penalty on receiver Jabari Arthur to move the Stamps even deeper into Ticats territory, down to the 15-yard-line.
Mitchell didn't take long to strike from there, going straight to McDaniel, who shook a defender for a 15-yard touchdown catch. The touchdown sent the McMahon Stadium crowd into a frenzy, capping off an 8-play, 85 yard scoring drive to vault the Stamps into a 26-22 lead.
Burris and the Ticats would get one last chance to pull ahead with a minute remaining, and the veteran pivot continued his magic to keep the drive alive with a big completion to Jones on third and eight yards.
But when they reached midfield, Burris was sacked by Cordarro Law, and the Stamps' drive was eventually foiled as time ran out after a last-ditch heave by Burris from the 35-yard-line that was picked off.
With the win the Stampeders earned their fourth straight victory, improving to 9-2 on the season and taking temporary control of top spot in the West Division. They face the Argonauts at home next weekend.
The Ticats, meanwhile, will head East to Moncton to host the Alouettes next Saturday in Touchdown Atlantic.