EDMONTON -- Jon Cornish led his team on the ground and in receiving, while Rene Paredes connected on five field goals as the Calgary Stampeders battled their way to a 22-12 win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Cornish scored his team's lone touchdown in the first quarter off a turnover, while Paredes hit from 42 yards out late in the fourth to seal the deal for the Stamps, securing a home-and-home sweep of the Eskimos in Head Coach John Hufnagel's 100th career game.
The dual-threat back finished the night with 14 rushes and six catches for 177 yards from scrimmage, while Bo Levi Mitchell played the role of game manager in just his second career start to complement a stout defensive performance.
Mike Reilly finished the night 16-26 passing with 194 yards for the Esks, while rookie running back John White led the Double E with 89 yards and a touchdown in his second career start.
The action opened with a pair of early stops by the defences, but the chess match ended quickly when Cary Koch failed to field a punt cleanly, putting the ball on the ground.
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Stamps’ rookie and 13th overall pick Ben D’Aguilar scooped up the loose ball to give Calgary possession deep in Eskimos territory, with a chance to strike early on the road.
The Stampeders made the Eskimos pay dearly for committing the game’s first mistake, as Cornish followed up a first down run with an 11-yard touchdown grab from Mitchell to give the visiting team a 7-0 lead on just two plays.
From there, the defences controlled the pace as both teams looked to establish the running game. Cornish and White failed to break anything long, while Justin Capicciotti and Junior Turner each had a sack to keep the game within a touchdown.
Shutout in the first quarter for the second straight week against Calgary, Friday night’s contest marked the eighth straight game in which the Esks didn't score a touchdown in the first quarter.
The Green and Gold finally found life on offence with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, when Reilly floated a pass into the hands of Fred Stamps in single coverage, putting the offence within striking distance for the first time in the game.
Yhe Esks were forced to settle for a 35-yard field goal attempt from Hugh O’Neill was pulled left, making the score 7-1.
The Eskimos quickly earned a chance at redemption however, when on the very next drive defensive back Chris Thompson intercepted Mitchell, setting up the Double E once again in prime scoring position.
This time Reilly and the Esks took advantage. After a first down completion to Marcus Henry made it first and goal and White’s run moved the ball to the one, the rookie running back finished off the short scoring drive with a powerful 1-yard touchdown run.
White’s first career rushing touchdown gave the Eskimos the 8-7 lead halfway through the second quarter, marking the first time in four games they’ve held the lead against their provincial rival.
Some continued strong running from Cornish quickly erased that however, as the New Westminster native put the Stamps right back in scoring range with a 29-yard dash into Esks’ territory. That led to a 42-yard field goal by Paredes to put the Stamps back in the driver’s seat, 10-8.
Nothing was easy for Bo Levi Mitchell in just his second career start, but the shifty gunslinger made all the plays necessary to move to 2-0 in his CFL career.
Calgary got the ball back after a quick stop on defence, but this time didn’t go far before turning the ball over. In a short yardage situation, Drew Tate came under centre and handed the ball off to Matt Walter, who coughed up the ball on a big hit over the pile from Ted Laurent.
But for the second time in the first half after being held to field goal attempt, O’Neill missed wide again, forcing the Eskimos to settle for a single point.
The teams exchanged two-and-outs to begin the second half, but after that the Stampeder offence ignited. First Mitchell kept the drive alive when he overcame pressure to complete a first-down pass to Brad Sinopoli.
Then the elusive gunslinger, while on the run from defenders, found Jabari Arthur in first-down territory for a 22-yard gain. The drive stalled, but the Stamps managed to add to their lead with a 33-yard field goal from Paredes to make it 13-9 Calgary.
The Stamps soon added a 37-yard field goal by Paredes to restore their touchdown lead, but the Eskimos came roaring back on the ensuing possession.
Reilly first moved the chains on second down with a six-yard completion to second-year receiver Shamawd Chambers, before hooking up again on second down with Adarius Bowman for a 15-yard pickup.
After a 12-yard run by Reilly followed by a close-call on a fumble that was ruled down by contact, the Eskimos moved into a goal-to-go situation, but once again were forced to trot O'Neill back onto the field to try a short field goal.
This time however O'Neill converted from 14 yards out, cutting the deficit to 16-12 with just under nine minutes remaining in the game.
Led by a 21-yard run by Cornish on the following Stamps' possession, the Red and White moved quickly and efficiently into scoring range in response. The drive crashed to a sudden hault thanks to a sack from Marcus Howard, but it wasn't enough to stop Paredes from splitting the uprights on a 50-yard attempt to put Calgary back in front by a seven, 19-12.
Unlike last week, the Esks couldn't spark any fourth quarter magic this time as Paredes connected on his fifth field goal of the game to make it a 10-point deficit in the final two minutes.
After out-scoring opponents 105-66 in the fourth quarter coming into the matchup, the Esks were outscored 9-3 in the final frame on Friday. The loss also ended a streak of five straight losses by five points or fewer.
With the win, Mitchell moved to 2-0 in just his second career start, completing 19 of 26 pass attempts for 175 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
The Esks continue on next Saturday, when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers visit for the first and only time this season. The Stampeders, meanwhile, look to stay hot as they return home to try and tackle the Ticats.