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Calgary Stampeders

Stampeders Hold Off Tiger-Cats in Season Opener

The First game of the season between Calgary and Hamilton came down to the final drive. The Stampeders found a way to win against Bo Levi and the Tiger-Cats.

The Calgary Stampeders inched out a 32-24 victory against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.­

Jake Maier had a solid season opening performance completing 21 of 26 passes for 252 yards with 2 touchdowns. Despite pressure Maier was quick to get outside the pocket when he needed to, making accurate throws on the run. When push came to shove in the 4th quarter Maier completed 7 of 9 for 96 yards.

After a slow start for Dedrick Mills he took off on a 23-yard carry which kick started the rest of his day. Mills was unstoppable in the second quarter during which he picked up 53 yards on 5 carries. On the day Mills had 87 yards on 13 carries. He also made 2 receptions for 19 yards.

Passes were well distributed among receivers and running backs with receptions made by 8  different Stampeders. Clark Barnes was the go-to target, making 6 receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. Barnes was targeted 8 times. Reggie Begelton made 4 receptions on 5 targets good for 45 yards. Jalen Philpot and Dedrick Mills each had 2 receptions on 2 targets. Philpot had 23 receiving yards to Mills’ 19.

Breakout Rookies

In his CFL debut, 29-year-old Cam Echols was targeted 4 times. He finished the game with 3 receptions for 40 yards and scored his first career touchdown late in the second quarter.

Overall, it was a great day for several new faces. Running back BJ Emmons played most of the fourth quarter getting 23 yards on 5 carries. He also had one reception for 7 yards.

Fellow first year CFLer Erik Brooks returned 2 kickoffs for 26 yards and 2 punts for 54 yards. His biggest moment came in the third quarter when he returned a missed field goal 84 yards to the Hamilton 32 yard line. The following drive was a two-and-out, leading to a Paredes field goal.

Rookie cornerback Bentlee Sanders had a debut to remember, getting 5 defensive tackles on the day. Fourth overall draft pick Ben Labrosse finished the game with 1 special teams tackle.

Friday’s game was the first time Bo Levi Mitchell played in Calgary since being replaced by Jake Maier in 2022. The crowd and the team welcomed him back with open arms. Rookie defensive lineman Clarence Hicks was less inviting, sacking Bo in the first quarter for his first career sack. Demario Houston carried the welcome wagon for a bit too getting a pick off Bo in the second. Houston led the team with 7 tackles.

In the final minute of the first half Bo took off running and took a big hit from Micah Awe and Mike Rose, after which he was slow to get up. After another play the medical spotter decided to intervene so Bo could be assessed for a concussion. He was back in to start the second half.

Mitchell finished the game 27 of 38 for 300 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. In the 4th quarter Bo had 157 yards passing and the Tiger-Cats scored 17 points. Hamilton running back James Butler dominated on the ground taking 13 carries 119 yards in the game, averaging 9.2 yards per carry.

Calgary’s defense got lucky several times with Tim White and Kiondre Smith dropping potential touchdown passes. Hamilton’s offense had 459 net offensive yards in the battle on Friday night. 298 yards of net offense happened in the second half.

Rene Paredes was busy going 6 for 6 on field goals. One area the Stamps are looking to improve is finishing drives after Paredes made the most field goal attempts last season. While he’s a reliable kicker, every field goal in close leaves potential points off the board. Still, Cody Grace only had 3 punts on the day for 155 yards, his longest going 56 yards.

The 1-0 Stampeders will take on the BC Lions in BC place on the evening of June 15th.

author avatar
Matthew Harrison
Since my I attended my first Blue Bomber game at Canad Inns Stadium in the very early 2000s, I have been a passionate follower of the CFL. Watching from home week in and week out or spending an evening losing my voice at a game, I have always loved this league. This year I'll be covering the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts, two promising teams, each with a chip on their shoulder coming into 2024. Follow me here to stay up to date with what you need to know going into gameday.
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