Eric Rogers nearly wasn’t a Stampeder this season.
The 28-year-old receiver considered retirement after helping Calgary win the Grey Cup last November.
He’d undergone a second major knee surgery in as many years in early August.
Even though he returned for playoffs, Rogers wasn’t sure his knee would allow him to continue playing football.
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The six-foot-four, 215-pound slotback decided to re-sign with the Stampeders.
His team benefited greatly from that decision Saturday.
Rogers scored three touchdowns, including the game winner with 31 seconds left, in a 36-32 victory over the visiting B.C. Lions.
“Last year was just so taxing and gruelling,” Roger said. “I was pretty much done until free agency came around and I decided to come back. I’m glad I did.
“It’s a terrible thing for you to have to end your career early for an injury and I know if happens often.
“Just for me to be able to go out on my own terms and have my favourite No. 4, it’s definitely a blessing to be able to play the game of football.”
Trailing 22-9 at halftime and down nine points after three quarters, Calgary (1-1) outscored B.C. 23-10 in the final quarter.
The Lions dropped to 0-3.
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Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s 252 passing yards pushed him to the career 25,000 mark, but he did not finish the game.
Mitchell appeared to hurt his throwing shoulder with less than three minutes to play, bringing backup Nick Arbuckle onto the field.
Arbuckle’s one-yard rushing touchdown and a two-point convert throw to Rogers pulled Calgary within a field goal with one minute 20 seconds left.
Then Calgary’s Michael Klukas got his hand on the ball during an onside kick for Rogers to recover in B.C. territory.
Rogers’ four-yard touchdown catch completed the comeback.
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“I think he’s back to the Eric Rogers we saw a few years ago,” head coach Dave Dickenson said. “He’s making sharp cuts.
“He’s going down the field. He has the hands, the high point. You try to cover a guy with that sort of wing span. Great game and clutch once again.”
Dickenson did not have an update on Mitchell’s condition. Mitchell was 23 for 34 in passing including two touchdowns before leaving the game.
John White scored a pair of touchdowns for the Lions, who had an 11-point cushion with five minutes to play on quarterback Mike Reilly’s rushing touchdown.
Former Stampeder Lemar Durant also had a touchdown catch for B.C. in front of an announced 25,130 at McMahon Stadium.
Reilly completed 36-of-42 pass attempts for 354 yards and a pair of touchdown passes in the loss.
“The game is never over. It literally is never over in this league, especially if it’s within two scores,” Reilly said.
“They made the plays when they needed to and we let too many opportunities slip by throughout the course of the game.”
B.C. dominated time of possession with 37 minutes to just under 23 for Calgary.
“It wasn’t pretty. Did we outplay them? Probably not,” Dickenson said. “Time of possession was obscene in their favour, but football is football.
“I believe that’s why we love the CFL because the game’s not over. That clock goes slow in those last three minutes and we were able to take advantage of it.”
The Stampeders got help from a defence that out-tackled the Lions 57-41 and prevented a last-second touchdown in the first half with a goal-line stand.
Arbuckle completed all nine passes he attempted for 93 yards in relief of Mitchell.
“It’s the moment I’ve been preparing for since I (joined) the team all the way back in 2016 when I joined on the practice squad,” Arbuckle said.
“I was just waiting for my opportunity and knew the longer it took to get there, the better I was going to be when I got there.”
The Lions are in Toronto to face the Argonauts and the Stampeders head to Regina to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.
© 2019 The Canadian Press