CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders’ defence exploited the B.C. Lions’ quarterback woes in a 35-23 win Friday.
With Travis Lulay on the six-game injured list with a sprained knee and backup John Beck knocked out of Friday’s game in the second quarter, the Stampeder backfield made life hard for third-stringer Jonathon Jennings in his CFL debut.
The score tied at 21-all early in the fourth quarter, the Stampeders kept the Lions out of the end zone, while Calgary’s stalled offence got back on track.
Over the final five minutes of the game, Keon Raymond twice intercepted Jennings throwing to the end zone and Jamar Wall brought down B.C. receiver Manny Arceneaux just outside the goal-line to force a turnover on downs.
“For you to take points out of that end zone, it takes their heart away, it takes the life out of them,” Raymond said.
Calgary stayed unbeaten at McMahon Stadium this season at 7-0 and improved to 9-3 atop the CFL’s West Division. The Lions dropped to 4-7 with a second loss in a row.
“Our mindset right now is to continue to stay in first place and get better towards playoffs,” Raymond said. “Our biggest thing right now is you don’t let nobody come into your house and take anything from you in your house.”
Stampeders star running back Jon Cornish had 12 carries for 41 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown run in his first game back since breaking his right thumb July 24. Receiver Eric Rogers also had a big night with 115 yards to pass the 1,000-mark on the season.
Calgary backup quarterback Bryant Moniz scored on a one-yard plunge. Rene Paredes kicked field goals from 42, 37 and 39 yards to extend the league’s longest current field-goal streak to 18 in a row.
Calgary starter Bo Levi Mitchell was 21-for-34 in passing for 268 yards and a pair of touchdown throws.
B.C.’s Chris Rainey scored touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns of 103 yards each.
“It felt good at that time and then when you come out with the loss, it all gets erased out of my brain,” Rainey said. “We played hard through the whole game. The turnovers got us, that’s all.”
Running back Andrew Harris added a two-point convert. Lions kicker Richie Leone was good from 18 and 25 yards, but missed from 42.
Beck’s second CFL start ended in the second quarter when he was steamrolled by Calgary defensive end Freddie Bishop III and suffered what appeared to be an injury in his upper throwing arm. Beck left the game completing nine of 16 passes for 82 yards.
Jennings completed 15 of 26 pass attempts for 251 yards in relief and was intercepted three times.
“I thought Jon came in and did an admirable job coming off the bench,” Lions head coach Jeff Tedford said. “He’ll be better. A couple balls probably he wants back — forcing the ball, trying to make plays.”
Calgary’s defence knocked down six passes. A Jennings fumble recovered by Micah Johnson midway through the fourth quarter gave Calgary the ball on B.C.’s 19-yard line. The hosts turned the turnover into a touchdown with Cornish’s 16-yard rumble for a major.
“It was a game we were able to create a bunch of turnovers, which definitely helped us win this football game,” Calgary head coach John Hufnagel said.
Coming off a 27-16 loss to the Eskimos in Edmonton in Week 12, the Stampeders haven’t lost two games in a row since July 12, 2012, which is a span of 63 games.
“I don’t want to have that happen on my watch,” Cornish said. “When we come back and play after we lose, sometimes we aren’t exactly where we need to be, but we come back and we win.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press