Stampeders squeeze out 23-20 win against Eskimos in Labour Day Classic
A Rene Paredes field goal with no time left on the clock preserved the Calgary Stampeders’ string of Labour Day victories.
Calgary held off the Edmonton Eskimos 23-20 for a seventh straight win in the traditional Battle of Alberta on the September holiday Monday.
The Stampeders remained unbeaten at home this season at 6-0, but paid a price to climb to 9-1 atop the CFL’s West Division.
Calgary’s star receiver Kamar Jorden and starting cornerback Ciante Evans left the game with lower-body injuries and did not return.
Calgary also had a major scare in the third quarter when quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell appeared to hyperextend his left knee.
Mitchell wore a brace in the fourth quarter when he moved the chains for Paredes to boot the winning 43-yard field goal.
“We love these battles. That’s why we play football. You don’t play football for blowouts,” Mitchell said.
“You play football for grinding things out, playing through things, having to put your fingers in the dirt, wipe some blood off your face and go out there and get a win.”
The right-footed Paredes prefers to kick from the left of the uprights in case he hooks it. A pair of running plays got him to that side of the field.
“Before that drive, I walked over and he said, ‘Just get me there.’ I said, ‘You know I will. I’ll get you there, you put it in,”’ Mitchell said. “That’s exactly what happened. Love that guy. Always will.”
Monday’s game and Saturday’s rematch in Edmonton are the only two games between the provincial rivals on the regular-season schedule.
Edmonton (6-5) was up 17-13 at halftime Monday, but the committed three costly turnovers _ two fumbles and an interception.
And it was the second game in which the Eskimos led and lost on a last-play field goal. Edmonton fell 25-24 to Hamilton in Week 11.
“I’m sick of losing games we could win if we get out of our own way,” Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly said. “I think everybody in that room is.
“We don’t hurt ourselves and we’re probably not worried about them kicking a field goal with no time left to win the game.”
Reilly completed 19 of 28 passes for 250 yards. He threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Duke Williams and was intercepted once.
Mitchell was 16-for-30 in passing for 255 yards. He threw a touchdown pass to DaVaris Daniels, who finished with 13 catches for 116 yards.
Backup quarterback Nick Arbuckle threw two passes for 66 yards during Mitchell’s third-quarter absence.
Paredes kicked five field goals, including a 50-yarder in the first quarter for his longest this season, in front of an announced 32,013 at McMahon Stadium.
Morning rain gave way to sun for the afternoon kickoff.
C.J. Gable scored a touchdown for Esks with Sean Whyte kicking three field goals.
“We played a very good football game against a great football team in their own building,” Eskimos coach Jason Maas said.
“It came down to our inability to hold onto the ball when it mattered the most. Three turnovers in, I think, nine plays in the third and fourth quarter combined isn’t going to get it done against these guys and we know it.”
Edmonton also didn’t escape significant injury Monday.
Eskimos receiver Derel Walker’s left leg bent unnaturally on a Tre Roberson after-catch tackle in the second quarter. The CFL’s leader in touchdown catches didn’t return to the game.
Saturday’s rematch will come quickly for two teams that wore each other out.
“Win or lose, you’re just as sore,” Stampeder head coach Dave Dickenson said. “If you come out on top, you can usually recover faster and if you don’t get that win, it’s really tough to recover.
“Hopefully that helps us next week.”
© 2018 The Canadian Press