The Calgary Stampeders saved their best for the fourth quarter as they pulled off a 13-12 come-from-behind win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.
“I’ll take the win,” said Calgary coach Dave Dickenson, who wasn’t “super happy” with how his team played for the first three-and-a-half quarters of the game. “To me it’s about the fourth quarter.
“Listen, did we play well? Probably not — not well enough to win — but in the CFL if you keep believing, you keep working, you keep giving yourselves a chance and make plays in the fourth quarter, sometimes you can pull those games out.”
Quarterback Jack Maier threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Luther Hakunavanhu at 13:17 of the fourth quarter to set up the heroics by Paredes, who also kicked a 32-yard field goal with 4:53 to play to start the rally.
“For whatever reason, towards the end of the game we started executing the plan,” said Maier, who completed 10-of-20 passes for 177 yards to go with his one TD pass and one interception. “That’s just football. It comes down to a few plays a game that can determine the outcome.
“That’s why you never give up in football. You just keep playing. We feel pretty good about walking out of our last regular season game here with a W.”
WATCH l Stampeders complete comeback with last-second field goal:
Bo Levi Mitchell started at quarterback for the Stamps and went 7 for 11 for just 39 yards before being relieved by Maier in the second half.
Sergio Castillo kicked four field goals to give the Blue Bombers (11-3) a 12-0 lead at 8:24 of the fourth quarter before the Stamps rallied for the win.
“Our record doesn’t matter now,” said Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea, whose team had clinched top spot in the West Division before losing their final two games of the regular season. “Nothing matters right now. We’ll watch the film, make corrections we need to make.
“There are reasons why we win or lose, like I always say. And after we get done those corrections, it doesn’t matter what our record is. We’ve got one game to play and we’ve got two weeks to prepare for it. None of that stuff matters now.”
Zach Collaros started the game at quarterback for the Bombers and completed 7-of-10 passes for 73 yards in the first half before rookie Dru Brown came into the game to replace him. Brown went 7 for 14 for 49 yards, while also carrying the ball seven times for 44 yards.
‘Every time you play a game you want to win the game’
“Every time you play a game you want to win the game,” said Collaros following the loss. “It’s not a good feeling, but you’ve got to move on from it, learn from it and get ready for our next opponent here.
“We have to learn from this, become better as teammates — all those things throughout this bye week.”
The Stamps will now head to Regina for the West semifinal on Nov. 28 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-5). The victor will then travel to Winnipeg to play the Bombers a week later for the right to play in the Grey Cup on Dec. 12 in Hamilton.
After a slow start for both teams, Winnipeg had a great chance to open the scoring mid-way through the first quarter when Collaros drove the Bombers down to Calgary’s three-yard line.
On the next play, Brown dropped back and fumbled the ball after being pressured by Calgary’s Jameer Thurman. Fellow Stamps linebacker Javien Elliott picked up the ball and ran it back 23 yards, but Raheem Wilson was penalized on the play for an illegal block and Calgary had to settle for starting their drive on their own 36-yard line.
Calgary’s woes continued throughout the first half as the Stamps weren’t able to put any points on the board.
Meanwhile, the Bombers settled for a 15-yard field goal by Castillo at 10:32 of the second quarter.
The visitors had a chance to increase their lead to 6-0 as time ran out in the first half, but Castillo missed his 52-yard field goal attempt wide to the right.
The start of the second half was much of the same as both teams weren’t able to get much of anything going offensively.
HIs next pass was picked off by Winnipeg’s Mike Jones to give the Bombers the ball at the Calgary 40-yard line. Three plays later, Castillo kicked a 45-yard field goal to put Winnipeg up 6-0 at 9:25 of the third quarter.
Castillo then booted a 46-yard field goal at 4:26 of the fourth quarter and added another one from 50 yards out at 8:24.
Paredes started Calgary’s comeback with a 32-yard field goal at 10:07 before Hakunavanhu hauled in a long pass from Maier and ran 26 more yards into the end zone to pull the Stamps within two points.
Tiger-Cats get dominant win over Roughriders
Now comes the fun part for Simoni Lawrence and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans threw touchdown passes and Lawrence became the franchise’s all-time leader in tackles as Hamilton defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 24-3 in the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday.
Up next for Lawrence and the Ticats is hosting the Montreal Alouettes next weekend in the East Division semifinal.
“It’s always good to go into the playoffs with a winning mindset and just keep the mind in a winning category,” Lawrence said. “It’s a big win for us and it’s time to go to the playoffs and earn everything else.”
Saturday’s game meant nothing in the standings as both teams had already cemented second spot in their respective divisions. Saskatchewan clinched its position with last week’s 29-24 win over Edmonton, while Hamilton (8-6) captured the East’s No. 2 spot with the Ottawa Redblacks’ 19-18 comeback win Friday night over Montreal (7-7).
Montreal and Hamilton split their season series 1-1. The Ticats earned a 27-10 road win Aug. 27 before the Alouettes erased a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit en route to a 23-20 overtime victory at Tim Hortons Field on Oct. 2.
“We want to play Montreal, we’re excited about playing Montreal,” Lawrence said. “If they stole it [overtime win], it’s time for us to prove that they stole it.
Saskatchewan (9-5) will be home to the Calgary Stampeders (8-6) in next weekend’s West Division semifinal.
With nothing on the line, Saskatchewan didn’t play a host of veterans, including starter Cody Fajardo, running back William Powell, receiver Duke Williams, defensive lineman Micah Johnson and offensive lineman Dan Clark. Sophomore Isaac Harker made his first start of the season — and second of his CFL career.
Hamilton fielded its starters and predictably controlled the contest before a season-high Tim Hortons Field gathering of 22,344. Masoli was solid completing 17-of-21 passes for 223 yards and a TD in staking the Ticats to a 14-0 halftime lead.
Evans took over to start the third and wasted no time giving Hamilton a 21-0 lead. He capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive with a six-yard TD strike to Brandon Banks at 4:34.
“It’s natural instinct to maybe exhale but when they came out there and played, I thought their effort was extremely high,” Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer said of his squad. “I thought the intensity was there, I thought they showed a sense of urgency.
“We’ll continue to grind, I know we have the right guys for it.”
Lawrence breaks franchise record for most tackles
Lawrence registered five tackles to boost his career total to 609, surpassing Rob Hitchcock (606) for tops in club history.
“It’s legendary,” Lawrence said of the record. “He [Hitchcock] is a legend and a well-respected man around Hamilton and the love was felt from him this whole season.
“It’s a competitive sport and we all want to be at the top and he was for a very long time.”
Michael Domagala’s 34-yard field goal at 6:01 put the Ticats ahead 24-0 following Tunde Adeleke’s interception. Brett Lauther’s 16-yard field goal at 13:35 accounted for Saskatchewan’s scoring.
“We got more information,” said Steinauer. “I was pleased with the defence getting some stops early just to really squish any momentum that they possibly had started.
Harker gave way to Mason Fine in the third before returning in the fourth. Harker finished 16-of-23 passing for 150 yards and two interceptions while Fine was 5-of-9 attempts for 64 yards.
Saskatchewan didn’t help itself either with penalties (12 for 101 yards) or turnovers (four). The Riders generated 255 net offensive yards while holding the ball for under 25 minutes.
“You don’t visualize this going the way it did,” Harker said. “But there’s also a lot of extenuating circumstances that you don’t have control over and sometimes you just have to push through.
“I got a shot and it didn’t end up how I wanted. But I don’t regret anything, all the hours I put into it. I’m just going to have to wait until my next turn.”
Evans was 10-of-16 passing for 126 yards with two interceptions. He also ran for 33 yards on four carries and had a 25-yard punt.
Don Jackson scored Hamilton’s other touchdown. Domagala kicked two converts, a single and three field goals.
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