WINNIPEG — Bo Levi Mitchell did everything required of him and more in his first career CFL start, completing 29 of his 33 passes for 376 yards and 3 touchdowns, leading the Stampeders to a 37-24 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night.
With Kevin Glenn and Drew Tate sidelined with injuries, Mitchell made sure the Stamps offence didn’t miss a beat, as they garnered a total of 489 yards, 175 of them coming from Jon Cornish, who was dominant in the win as well.
It was a night of firsts for Winnipeg too, as in addition to Mitchell, Justin Goltz was also making his inaugural CFL start.
Both pivots saw action in Week 4, with Mitchell helping the Stamps complete a dramatic 24-point comeback over the Alouettes, throwing two touchdowns in limited action, while Goltz held his own in a loss to the Argonauts, completing 13 of 15 passes for 170 yards.
Goltz was named starter due to an injury to Buck Pierce.
As expected with a pair of young pivots leading their respective teams, it took some time for both offences to find their rhythm.
But with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter, Mitchell struck first.
Already leading 1-0 thanks to a punt single by Rob Maver, Mitchell embarked on his second possession of the game and wasted no time moving the Stamps into Winnipeg territory.
After Cornish earned two yards on a run up the middle, Mitchell went deep to rookie Tim Hawthorne for a massive 55-yard gain.
The grab brought the Stamps inside Winnipeg’s 30-yard line with a fresh set of downs.
To that point in the game, Mitchell was a perfect 7-7 for 118 yards a touchdown.
Not to be outdone, Goltz wasted little time getting his Bombers back in the game.
And thanks to a pair of strong plays by Canadian receivers Jade Etienne and Rory Kohlert, he was able to do just that. First, Goltz hooked up with Kohlert for a massive 40-yard gain that saw the receiver break a tackle and romp down the sideline before being taken down by a facemask tackle by Calgary’s Chris Randle.
The penalty brought the Bombers to the Stamps’ 11-yard line with a fresh set of downs.
With the second quarter underway, the Bombers offence went back to work. Taking over with excellent field position as a result of a shanked 23-yard punt by Maver, Goltz, Simpson and the rest of Winnipeg’s offence were within striking distance of taking the lead.
It was then that Goltz sent the crowd at Investors Group Field into an absolute frenzy.
After Simpson and Terrence Edwards brought the drive to Calgary’s 7-yard line with gains of 15 and 11 respectively, Goltz threw to Etienne again, finding the receiver for his second touchdown of the game to give the Bombers a 14-8 lead.
Soon after, the Stamps would begin to claw their way back into the game, using the foot of Rene Paredes as their vehicle.
Can’t Stop Cornish
Overshadowed by the play of Mitchell, Cornish was also unstoppable, carrying the ball 16 times for 88 yards while hauling in 6 passes for 87.
The Concordia product first split the uprights from 37 yards out to bring the Stamps within three of Winnipeg’s lead. The kick was also his 30th-straight successful field goal, tying Paul McCallum’s mark.
With less than two minutes to go in the half, Paredes would enter the record books, as he split the uprights from 19 yards out for his 31st-straight successful field goal attempt, tying the game in the process.
Then, with no time remaining on the clock, Paredes would extend his own record and give the Stamps a 17-14 lead, as he booted a 26-yard field goal as time expired.
While Paredes made waves at the tail-end of the first half, it was Cornish who stole the spotlight to start the second, as the tailback powered his way forward for gains of 14, 14, 9 and 8 before Mitchell connected with Canadian receiver Anthony Parker for his first career major.
The Bombers had a chance to cut into Calgary’s 10-point lead midway through the quarter, but a failed gamble on third down saw them walk away with nothing.
On the play, the Bombers were facing third-and-two from the Stampeders’ 36-yard line when Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke opted to go for it rather than attempt a field goal.
Goltz lined up in the shotgun and rolled out to his right, but was sacked for a one-yard loss by Keon Raymond.
The call proved to be a costly one for the Bombers, as the Stampeders managed to increase their lead on their ensuing possession, with Paredes splitting the uprights from 32 yards out.
Calgary, however, wasn’t satisfied with stopping there.