CALGARY — Bo Levi Mitchell used his legs to get things started and then relied on his arm to lead the Calgary Stampeders to a bounce-back victory.
Mitchell ran for an eight-yard touchdown in the first quarter and then threw for three more TDs in the second as the Stamps cruised to a convincing 38-17 win over the expansion Ottawa REDBLACKS in Saturday’s lone CFL game.
“It felt good to get out there and put some points on the board,” Mitchell said. “It should have been a lot more, 28 points in the first half and then some missed opportunities in the second half.”
After suffering his first loss as a starting quarterback in Calgary’s 25-24 loss to the B.C. Lions on Aug. 1 at home, Mitchell rebounded to complete 26-of-36 passes for 289 yards against the REDBLACKS.
“Bo played well,” said Calgary coach and general manager John Hufnagel. “I’m sure there’s some throws that he wished he had back, but he played 60 minutes of good football and put some points on the board.”
Jeff Fuller, Marquay McDaniel and Jabari Arthur all caught TD passes for the Stamps, who moved into a tie with the Edmonton Eskimos atop the CFL West Division standings.
“It was good to get going especially on offence,” said McDaniel, who finished with nine catches for 117 yards. “We haven’t been consistent the last few weeks. That was our main focus. As a receiving corps, we feel like it’s on us to get this offence going.”
Rene Paredes chipped in with a three field goals, while Rob Maver kicked a single.
Former Calgary quarterback Henry Burris threw a touchdown pass to Wallace Miles, while Chevron Walker had a rushing TD for the REDBLACKS. Ottawa kicker Brett Maher also had a field goal in the fourth quarter when the score was out of reach.
“I’m choosing to not consider ourselves like an expansion team,” said Ottawa coach Rick Campbell. “I want to win. I think we have some pieces of the puzzle in place here to compete and win some games. We’re going to do everything we can to play good guys and put them in the best position we can to have success.”
Burris, who went 20-for-29 for 281 yards, also threw a pair of interceptions in a losing cause.
“I’m just ready to start winning period,” Burris said. “This would have been a big win especially on the road. Calgary gave us some opportunities. Winning teams take advantage of opportunities. We just found other ways to shoot ourselves in the foot and make it tough on ourselves.”
The Stamps started their second drive of the game with great field position at the Ottawa 41-yard line thanks to a 52-yard punt return by Jock Sanders.
Six plays later, Paredes lined up to kick a 15-yard field goal, but Calgary executed a perfect trick play as Mitchell instead lined up under centre and took a quick snap before running for an eight-yard touchdown.
“It’s the kind of coaching staff we have,” Mitchell said. “They’re a go-get-it team. They definitely wanted to say, ‘Hey we’re on our first drive, let’s go get some momentum.’ The guys made some great blocks, got the hole open for me and we got in.”
Early in the second quarter, the Stamps extended their lead to 14-0 when Mitchell tossed a 17-yard TD strike to Fuller to cap off a quick four-play, 44-yard drive.
The early onslaught continued as defensive back Jamar Wall picked off an errant pass by Burris at midfield to end Ottawa’s best first-half drive to that point.
“It’s always nice to have an interception,” Wall said. “That was my first one this year. I’m pretty excited. Hopefully there’s more to come.”
Nine plays and 60 yards later, McDaniel caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell to give Calgary a commanding 21-0 lead.
The REDBLACKS earned a measure of redemption when Jasper Simmons intercepted a pass by Mitchell and ran it back 29 yards deep into Calgary territory.
On the next play, Calgary linebacker Keon Raymond was penalized for pass interference on Ottawa receiver Carlton Mitchell as well as objectionable conduct to give Ottawa the ball on the one-yard line. Walker promptly plunged across the goal line to get the REDBLACKS on the scoreboard.
The Stamps answered right back as Anthony Parker returned the kickoff 44 yards before Mitchell engineered a five-play, 51-yard drive that culminated with a 17-yard TD pass to Arthur.
Late in the third quarter, Burris capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive by tossing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Miles before Maver booted a 53-yard punt single to put Calgary up 32-14.The offensive woes for the REDBLACKS continued early in the third quarter as Burris was picked off by Calgary defensive back Joshua Bell, who ran it back 43 yards to the Ottawa 12-yard line. This time, the Stamps were unable to find the end zone and had to settle for a 12-yard field goal by Paredes.
After Maher kicked a 32-yard field goal for Ottawa early in the fourth quarter, Paredes responded by booting field goals from 40 and 30 yards out respectively to round out the scoring.