Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders put together a solid performance in their Grey Cup rematch against the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday night, as the quarterback threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns to spoil the Argos’ home opener with a 41-7 victory.
Receiver Eric Rogers led the way for Calgary with five catches for 131 yards and two scores, while rookie running back Don Jackson added balance to the offence with 123 rushing yards on just nine carries.
Toronto was without Ricky Ray for much of the second half after the quarterback left with an injury in the third quarter, and Calgary’s defence found a way to contain the Argos’ offence all game long.
The Stampeders got the ball first on offence and came out looking strong right away, going 46 yards in nine plays to open the scoring. Jackson sliced through the Argos’ defence for a nine-yard gain before Mitchell found receiver Juwan Brescacin to set up a 42-yard field goal from Rene Paredes.
The Stamps’ defence quickly got the ball back, and Mitchell continued right where he left off, engineering an impressive 70-yard drive in just two plays. Receiver Reggie Begelton made one of the most impressive catches of the evening, stretching out to make a diving 31-yard catch, and Mitchell finished off the drive by finding receiver DaVaris Daniels in one-on-one coverage for a 39-yard touchdown. Paredes added the extra point to give Calgary a 10-0 lead.
Calgary’s defence stifled every attempt the Argos made to get rolling early on, preventing Ray from finding any space or time to make a throw. Toronto’s defence also faced difficulty of their own when defensive back Matt Black left the game in the first quarter with an injury.
The Stamps’ momentum was briefly stopped near the end of the first quarter when Argos defensive lineman Frank Beltre stripped the ball from Mitchell. The Calgary quarterback attempted to evade pressure and gain yardage on the ground when the ball was knocked loose, and defensive back Ronnie Yell quickly scooped up the ball and took off into open field for a 77-yard return. Receiver Kamar Jorden gave everything he had to catch up to Yell and drag him down before he could score.
Calgary’s defence stepped up and prevented Toronto from capitalizing on the turnover, and the Argos’ walked away without a point after their field goal attempt was stymied due to a mishandled snap.
Calgary kept things going on offence upon getting the ball back, and Mitchell continued to connect with his receivers every time he dropped back to pass. The veteran passer once again had no problem picking up big chunks of yardage through the air, finding Rogers for a 38-yard gain and an 18-yard touchdown strike to help Calgary grab a 17-0 lead.
The Argos appeared to be getting things going on offence when running James Wilder Jr. fought his way for a tough 14-yard gain, but the Stamps’ defensive front stood strong to stall the Toronto drive. After knocking on the doorstep for the second time in the half, the Argos’ offence couldn’t find an answer, and a 28-yard field goal attempt from Ronnie Pfeffer went wide and out of bounds to give the Double Blue a single point.
Calgary extended their lead again near the end of the half when Mitchell led a 65-yard drive that put Paredes in position for an 18-yard field goal, giving Calgary a 20-1 lead heading into the third quarter.
The start of the second half saw Calgary’s passing attack continue to roll, and Mitchell quickly put together another long scoring drive by taking the Stamps’ offence 61 yards down the field in just four plays. Rogers came up big once again on the drive, reeling in a 59-yard pass down the left side of the field. The 27-year-old receiver extended up as far as he could to catch the ball at its highest point, and he found the end zone just two plays later with a 10-yard touchdown grab.
Calgary continued to make things happen after getting the ball back on their next drive, and Jackson broke free for his longest run of the night, a 70-yard gallop into the open field that put Calgary back in scoring position. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle finished off the drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak for the score, helping Calgary take a 34-1 lead.
Toronto was dealt a major injury blow near the end of the third quarter when Ray was forced from the game with an injury. The veteran passer took a hit from defensive lineman Cordarro Law while being sacked by defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis, and he had to be carted off the field on a stretcher. James Franklin took over under centre for the remainder of the game and finished with eight completions for 65 yards.
Calgary’s special teams briefly stole the show when Terry Williams took a punt and returned it an incredible 102 yards for the touchdown. Paredes added the extra point to extend the Stamps’ lead to 40 points entering the fourth quarter.
Franklin led the Argos to their first touchdown drive after that, capping off a 66-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run that injected energy into the home crowd. But it was too little too late as Calgary secured their second win of the season.
Week 3 will see the Stamps host the REDBLACKS on Thursday night, while the Argos will be off until they host the Eskimos in Week 4.