It was a wild, back-and-forth affair that saw the Stamps battle back from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit, on the shoulders of quarterback Kevin Glenn. Glenn, who’s taken over for Drew Tate after the first-year starter injured his shoulder two weeks ago, threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns to lead a dramatic comeback that saw it all.
Riders QB Darian Durant threw for 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss, but was contained most of the night as Calgary’s secondary kept star receivers Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf in check through most of the game.
After each team punted on their opening drives, the Stamps cashed in on an early edge in field position when Rene Paredes opened the scoring on a 46-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
The Riders looked to respond through the air, but the Calgary secondary, despite missing defensive back Keon Raymond, did an outstanding job in coverage to hold off the Riders offence.
It wasn’t until late in the first quarter that the running game would get involved, when Jacques Sanders found a major opening after a fake, sprinting for a 28-yard gain.
That would eventually set up a two-yard touchdown plunge for Kory Sheets, on just the rookie running back’s first carry of the game, to put the Riders ahead 7-3 with the game’s first major.
The Stamps looked to respond with a big play, but would be plagued by drops on the following drive.
Third-year receiver Johnny Forzani broke in alone behind the Riders’ defence, but with no defender within 15 yards, the pass was underthrown and Forzani couldn’t make the grab coming back for the ball.
Eventually though the 23-year-old would get a chance to make up for the drop, responding on the next drive with a 39-yard reception.
After Lewis’ league-leading 12th catch for a first down, the 30-year-old struck again. Matched up with Riders’ linebacker Tyron Brackenridge, Lewis made a swim move to get inside position and hauled in a six-yard touchdown catch.
The Riders responded quickly though. Set up by a Durant 20-yard run on second and long to extend the drive, Sheets found space along the sideline and made Stamps defenders miss on a 48-yard highlight-reel dash to the Calgary two yard line.
In short-yardage, backup quarterback Drew Willy took the reins and quickly found Neal Hughes in the end zone for his first career CFL touchdown pass, as the Riders re-gained the lead with just over eight minutes left in the half.
Larry Taylor gave the Stamps great starting field position on the next drive after a long kick return, eventually setting up a 37-yard field goal from Paredes to cut the deficit to one.
With the Riders forced to punt on the ensuing drive, the snap got past punter Chris Milo, who was forced to chase down the loose ball and concede a safety.
As the half winded down, the Riders appeared to be punting again after failing to convert on a second down conversion. But Torrey Davis was flagged after the play for unnecessary roughness, extending the drive and giving the Riders another chance.
Durant made the Stamps pay on a perfect strike to Dressler on a flag route, giving the Riders a 21-15 lead heading into the half.
The Riders picked up right where they left off at the beginning of the second half, with Tristan Jackson taking the opening kickoff for a 63-yard return. With great field position, Durant wasted no time getting the Riders back in the end zone.
He found Dressler on a highlight-reel 20-yard touchdown reception, putting the Riders ahead 28-15 and silencing the McMahon Stadium crowd.
Soon after, Paredes struck from 44 yards out to put the Stamps within 10 points as the third quarter unraveled, keeping him perfect on the night and capping off a promising drive for Calgary.
But the Riders would quickly storm back down the field in impressive fashion to start the fourth. After an Efram Hill touchdown was called back following a lengthy challenge, it took a leap over the pile on third down from Sheets to extend the lead to 35-18.
Glenn and the Stamps’ offence showed signs of life again with five minutes to go in the game, as the first-year Stamp hooked up with Lewis for a 21-yard hookup on the receiver’s second touchdown reception of the game.
On the ensuing drive, with Durant carefully and efficiently driving the Riders up the field and shedding the clock, the Riders’ pivot made his first mistake of the season – and it was a big one. Linebacker Malik Jackson jumped on Durant’s pass for the interception, giving the Stamps excellent field position with just a 10-point deficit.
It was the Riders’ first turnover of the season, and it appeared to give Calgary a huge momentum boost. Glenn took advantage almost instantly, hooking up with Larry Taylor for a 20 yard touchdown, putting the Stamps down by just three points.
After the Stamps’ defence rose to the equation once again, it seemed like Glenn would get another chance to strike. But Taylor fumbled the ensuing punt, and after a long challenge it was ruled a fumble, giving Saskatchewan possession.
With the Riders in field goal range, the Stamps responded again on defence in a major way, as Charleston Hughes sacked Durant on a second down play to knock the Riders out of field goal range.
Down by a field goal with 1:40 left on the clock, Glenn took over at the 17-yard line, and wasted no time in moving the Stamps in the right direction. After first downs to Forzani and Chris Bauman, Glenn hit Romby Bryant for his first catch of the game for a 32-yard gain.
Glenn was injured on the play, forcing Bo Levi Mitchell into the game. The rookie moved the chains once, but was flushed out of the pocket on a second down play and forced to throw the ball through the side of the end zone to give the Stamps a shot at the tying field goal.
Paredes gave Stamps fans a major scare after hitting the upright on the close attempt, but it took a fortunate bounce through the upright to tie the game.
As if the drama weren’t enough, the Riders appeared to have a golden chance to get the go-ahaed score in the dying minutes of the game, when Dressler snuck behind the secondary but dropped a wide open pass that was right on the hands.
That meant overtime, and on the first possession the Riders got into trouble. Durant was sacked on second down by Chris McCoy, forcing Milo to kick a 50-yard field goal to help keep the Riders alone.
But on the ensuing drive, Glenn continued to shred the Riders defence just as he had during the fourth quarter. After a 19-yard completion to Romby Bryant, Glenn connected with Lewis on a 16-yard touchdown play for Lewis’ third of the game, sending the McMahon Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
NOTES: Riders’ cornerback Eddie Russ was taken out of the game after being injuring his leg, and was replaced Tristan Jackson. Calgary’s Dimitri Tsoumpas, meanwhile, was ejected from the game early in the third quarter.