HAMILTON — Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders continued their winning ways against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Mitchell had a TD pass and ran for another as Calgary defeated Hamilton 30-20 on Saturday afternoon for its sixth straight win and 10th in 11 games versus the Ticats.
But an untimely injury and boost from the defence helped the Stamps regain a share of top spot in the West Division.
Drew Tate’s three-yard TD run with 33 seconds remaining cemented the Calgary win, to the dismay of the Ron Joyce Stadium gathering of 6,500 that was energized by a spirited Hamilton comeback. Tate’s touchdown was set by a Jamar Wall interception of Ticats’ quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who had replaced injured starter Dan LeFevour.
“That’s the kind of defence they are, bend but don’t break,” Mitchell said. “They give us the ball in good field position all the time.
“For them to come up and make a huge play at the end to win it and not put it all on the offence to make the play was great.”
But LeFevour’s departure was as big as Wall’s interception. LeFevour pulled Hamilton to within 20-17 just 16 seconds into the fourth with a 21-yard TD strike to Bakari Grant. But he suffered a suspected left knee injury while scrambling and it was Masoli who came on after Rene Paredes’ 38-yard field goal at 5:11 boosted Calgary’s lead to 23-17.
Justin Medlock’s 32-yard field goal at 9:11 made it a three-point game.
LeFevour finished 21-of-30 passing for 282 yards and two TDs while adding 42 yards rushing. Masoli completed 7-of-10 attempts for 68 yards with the costly interception.
“Obviously the game shifted when they had to make a quarterback change,” Calgary head coach/GM John Hufnagel said.
“I don’t have an official update (on LeFevour) so I don’t want to speculate,” Ticats head coach/GM Kent Austin said. “It doesn’t look good but we’ll see.
“The guys are frustrated. They play hard but we’ve got to play clean especially early in the game. We’re digging too big of holes right now that we’re trying to overcome. We’re not a good enough football team to overcome a deficit like that right now.”
Mitchell was a workmanlike 19-of-27 passing for 271 yards while adding 33 yards rushing on four carries. But the unit’s workhorse was Hugh Charles, who ran for 102 yards on 14 carries in his first start with Calgary. Charles is the Stamps’ fifth different tailback this season after injuries to Canadians Jon Cornish and Matt Walter and internationals Jock Sanders and Martell Mallett.
“Man, I love watching him play,” Mitchell said of Charles.
“Hugh’s one of those guys when he sees it he hits it running and he’s fast. He was a huge factor in the win.”
Calgary moved into a tie with the Edmonton Eskimos atop the West Division on a wet, blustery afternoon.
Hamilton suffered its third straight loss and dropped to 0-6 versus West Division teams. Its lone victory was a 33-23 home decision over Ottawa on July 26.
After the game, Hamilton’s dressing room door stayed closed longer than normal because of a players/coaches meeting. The Ticats are off until Sept. 1 when they host arch-rival Toronto at Tim Hortons Field and defensive lineman Brian Bulcke said the theme of the meeting was very simple.
“No eyes down,” he said. “Everyone is looking to come back after the bye week and it’s a brand new season for us coming into Tim Hortons Field and we’re going to act like it.
“Conditioning and mental discipline, those two things will be corrected.”
Bulcke said losing LeFevour is a huge setback but something the youthful Ticats can rally around and learn from.
“That was brutal,” he said. “But we’re a young team so adversity is great for us.”
Jeff Fuller had Calgary’s other touchdown. Paredes booted the converts and three field goals.
Erik Harris scored Hamilton’s other touchdown. Medlock kicked the converts and two field goals.
Mitchell wasted little time staking Calgary to a 17-7 half-time lead, hitting Fuller on a six-yard TD strike at 11:50 of the second after a 74-yard completion to West put the Stampeders at the Hamilton six-yard line. It came after Medlock missed from 47 yards kicking into a brisk wind that the visitors took out to their 30-yard line.
It was a wide-open first half, with both offences moving the ball, combining for 506 total yards (263 for Calgary, 243 for Hamilton). Mitchell was 14-of-19 passing for 202 yards and a TD while LeFevour finished 14-of-21 for 194 yards with a touchdown and interceptions.
Mitchell opened the scoring with a 14-yard TD run at 8:02 of the first to cap a smart 11-play, 93-yards on Calgary’s’ first possession. LeFevour countered with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Harris, a linebacker, at 9:57 before Paredes booted a 19-yard field goal the second time the Stampeders had the ball.