Stamps defence stymies Als in season-opening win | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League
Recap: Calgary 29, Montreal 8 Staff

CALGARY – Fred Bennett and the Calgary Stampeders defence swarmed Troy Smith and the Montreal Alouettes, securing a season-opening 29-8 victory at McMahon Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The victory came with a cost however, as star running back Jon Cornish left the game early after absorbing a hit from Kyries Hebert late in the game.  Hebert was ejected from the contest following the play.

Maurce Price, Anthony Parker and Cornish all had touchdowns in the win.

Bo Levi Mitchell made his first start as the undisputed leader of the Stampeders offence after beating out incumbent Drew Tate in training camp.  He finished with 313 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16 on 25 passing.

The Als countered with Smith who helped officially kick off the post-Anthony Calvillo era in Montreal.  Smith, who stepped up near the end of the 2013 season to lead the Als into the playoffs entered after a challenging pre-season appearance and looked to prove to new head coach Tom Higgins that he was the long-term solution under centre.

Related: Alouettes at Stampeders

» View Game Stats
» Images: MTL at CGY
» Video: Mitchell Finds Price for 102yd TD
» Video: Nik Lewis Returns with Huge Hit
» Video: Cornish Bolts up the Middle for TD
» Preview: Als, Stamps open Double Header

More to come...

Mitchell and the Stamps opened up the scoring, first with a 57-yard punt single by Rob Maver and then with a 38-yard field goal by Rene Paredes.

The first quarter went by with little incident but concluded with a bang.  Backed up inside their own five yard line, the Stampeders decided to forego conservative play-calling and air it out.  Mitchell stepped into a pass which hit receiver Maurice Price in stride for a career-long 102-yard highlight-reel touchdown to extend the Calgary lead to 11-0 on the final play of the opening frame.

The pass was the longest Stampeders touchdown strike since Jeff Garcia found Terry Vaughn for 104 yards in 1996.

The story the rest of the way to halftime was the Stampeders defence, led by Charleston Hughes up front and Bennett in the secondary.

Hughes, picked up where he left off last season, generating five tackles and a sack in the first half alone as the centrepiece of a Calgary pass rush that got to Smith four times on the day.

As for Bennett, he had a pick in the first quarter and seemed to have a second one but a major foul on defensive tackle Deron mayo negated the turnover.

Down 11-0, Smith entered halftime looking for a way to solve the Calgary secondary after only throwing for 48 yards in the first 30 minutes.  A bright spot for the Als, however, was the man Smith was handing off to, Brandon Whitaker.  Returning from an injury-riddled 2013, Whitaker looked sharp in his first game back, racking up 49 yards in the first half.

As the second half began, Mitchell once again marched the Stamps with ease.  Already with great field position due to a major foul applied to the kickoff, Mitchell stepped up and found WR Marquay McDaniel over the middle for a 16-yard gain, before taking off for 12 yards on his own.  The drive was stalled however, due mostly to a lick laid on the Texan QB by safety Marc Olivier Brouillette to break up a second-and-long in the redzone.

The Stamps settled for a 26-yard Paredes field goal to extend the lead to 14-0.

After the clubs traded punt singles, with the second one breaking the Montreal shutout, the Stamps began to pull away as the fourth quarter began. AS they did so many times last season, Calgary relied on the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Player, Jon Cornish, to get it done.  

MUST WATCH: Bo To Mo 102yd TD

 With just over 13 minutes remaining, Cornish handled a direct snap and found a hole up the middle of the Montreal defence, rumbling 18 yards for a touchdown and a 22-1 lead.  The Lou Marsh Award winner’s major helped cap off a 4-play, 65-yard drive by Mitchell and the Stampeders.

His day would end shortly thereafter though, as the aforementioned hit taken from Hebert forced Cornish to the locker room.

Cornish’s injury occurred in the middle of an impressive Stampeder march which began at their own 2 yard line.  Mitchell picked his team up after the hit and promptly spotted Parker wide open in the end zone for a 16-yard major which put the game away with 7:38 remaining.

That drive would signify the end of Mitchell's day as Tate entered with 5:06 left to finish out the game.

If there was one concern for the Stampeders coming out of this contest it was major foul penalties.  The Stampeders took a total of 6 15-yard fouls.

Montreal added a late touchdown with zeros on the clock for their first major score of the game.

Smith finished with 127 passing yards on 40 attempts.

The Als will regroup and return home to host the BC Lions while the Stampeders get an early bye week in Week 2.

Notes: Saturday marked the return of Nik Lewis to the lineup after sitting out the second half of last year with an injury … The much-anticipated debut of Chad Johnson was made at McMahon – he finished with a pair of receptions for 30 yards.

Fan Poll
Who was Saturday's best player?
1) Adarius Bowman
2) Bo Levi Mitchell
3) Andrew Harris
4) Maurice Parice
5) Mike Reilly
6) Jon Cornish
7) Other

Fan Comments
Well, the season has certainly begun with all the trash talk already flying fast and furious, lol. Hey, love him or hate him, AR makes this forum a lot more interesting than if he wasn't here.
June 30, 2014 - 9:46pm
Chew on that, AR.
June 29, 2014 - 3:05pm
als rule
@D47: well I guess you really told me didn't you?!! LOL LOL LOL
June 29, 2014 - 4:09pm
Tough to say whether the hit on Cornish was intentional or not, whether Hebert was aware of what he was doing. Certainly it would have been better if he had lowered his arm. Hopefully Cornish is ok.

The question is whether Smith can improve his accuracy. His career stats in this area are not the best. Is it a technical question? Communication with his receivers is one thing, but often it looked like he just missed his target. Do the Alouettes give him the whole season to improve? Or do they use Alex Brink or trade for an experienced CFL backup like .. Adrian McPherson?

June 29, 2014 - 1:55pm
als rule
@W31: WHAT? knock off the jumping off the bandwagon business again!! also can the McPherson business he wasn't the QB then and he's not the QB now!! as for brink file that thought!! it's smith and as you seem to have forgotten also tanner marsh!! there's never been 1 QB ever in the CFL that was asked to do what you want smith to do in his 1st year!! so chill YES some good times ahead as well as rough rocky tough days ahead!! you expected to replace HOFer AC with a HOFer AC?!! of course not so relax it's a long season yet to go!!
June 29, 2014 - 2:47pm
Jumping off the bandwagon business again? Don't remember doing it the first time!

Smith will have to play better or he will be passed by sooner or later. It is not written in stone that this is his team. Having said that, I wish him all the best and hope they don't give up on him too soon, or on Dinwiddie, or on Higgins for that matter. Of the three quarterbacks, although he did not play much, Brink has seemed to be the most accurate and most poised. I liked McPherson a lot in Montreal, but he didn't get a chance to be the QB and we all know why. Lets see how the team is playing after labour day. Not the time to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Did not see all the Hamilton game with Saskatchewan, but it seems the Ti-Cats did not play any better than the Alouettes their first time out.
June 29, 2014 - 10:45pm
Replied to this but it has not appeared. In short, agree with your last point - lets see how things are by Labour Day.
June 30, 2014 - 7:38am
Smith has a strong arm, but his aim is very poor. His stay in Canada may be short lived.
June 29, 2014 - 6:59am
als rule
taking his best shot at the montreal alouette brain trust of wetenhall/popp/higgins was former alouette SB jamel richardson spotted in the football crowd in calgary this afternoon decked out in red and white!! you got to luv the CFL!!
June 28, 2014 - 9:43pm
Am a bit disappointed in Jamel. I guess some good players have big egos. Support Popp et all on this one.
June 29, 2014 - 4:15pm
als rule
@W31: WHY?!! cause he's hurt and acting the way he is?!!
June 30, 2014 - 11:42am
Whew! So glad the season's started but a big scare there with that blindside clothesline on Jon Cornish. Hate to see a great player downed like that. Hope there's no lingering effect. The East isn't showing up so well against the West early on. Ti-Cats coming up tomorrow and no doubt they'll be tested by the Riders.
June 28, 2014 - 7:54pm
That vicious hit on Jon Cornish I hope will not go unpunished by the officials of the CFL. Hebert should receive , at the very least , a substantial personal fine. Or even a suspension for a significant period of games. Both as a deterrent and a warning to all others that this behaviour will not be tolerated. Football is a rough enough sport that intentional hits like that have no place in the sport. CFL do your job and protect the players ! ! !
June 29, 2014 - 10:46am
als rule
@FBF54: well whatever the CFL decides on hebert's punishment it can't be the same or more than what they gave A DT mitchell for breaking C OL rottier's arm a few years ago!!
June 29, 2014 - 12:51pm
als rule
June 28, 2014 - 5:27pm
i think alouette crying towels will be a very big seller this year! might want to change your name to "remember when the als ruled".
June 28, 2014 - 6:59pm
As usual, AR not willing to give the other team any credit. But no matter, the result is still the same LOL!! Looks like a long year ahead in Birdland!!
June 28, 2014 - 7:26pm
als rule
@G: NO need for crying towels or the need to change my handle!! montreal will always be ALS RULE to this follower of THE BEASTS OF THE EAST!! birds maybe grounded BUT haven't crashed or burned!!
June 28, 2014 - 9:10pm