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Stampeders overcome Lions in overtime thriller

The Stampeders stage a dramatic late comeback to steal a win and leapfrog B.C. in the standings.

These are two of the top squads in the CFL this season. Calgary came in off of a sound thumping of the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg where they were the better team from start to finish in a resounding win. Meanwhile the Lions came in off of a bye week but had still been playing great football in the preceding week.

The Lions showed no bye week jitters whatsoever early on as they forced the Stampeders to punt on their first possession. A booming 67-yard punt by Calgary went deep into Lions territory where Chris Rainey fielded it. He then proceeded to spectacularly return the kick 95-yards all the way to the end zone for the game’s opening score before the game was three minutes old. The Lions went for two points and were successful, making the score 8-0 to B.C..

The Stampeders responded on their next drive with a 46-yard field goal by Rene Parades to make it 8-3.

A single by the Lions would make it a 9-3 game heading into the second quarter, however Eric Fraser returned a late interception by Bo-Levi Mitchell all the way to the Calgary two-yard line to set up a great field position in the second quarter.

The Lions quickly punched it in for the touchdown and after the convert it was 16-3; then they pulled off a single on their ensuing kickoff for yet another point to make it 17-3.

The Stampeders responded with a 27-yard field goal by Rene Parades for a 17-6 scoreline.

After stopping the Lions, the Stampeders pulled an impressive play out of their playbook as Bo-Levi Mitchell aired a beautiful pass out to Greg Wilson, who took off down the sidelines to the end zone for a 75-yard scoring play. All of a sudden it was only a 17-13 lead for B.C, after the Calgary convert kick.

The Stampeders would get a field goal late in the second quarter to send the teams to the dressing room with only one point separating them on a 17-16 scoreline.

This match-up of two teams vying for first in the West had not disappointed this far as they kept trading offensive punches. Much of the same was to come in the second half.

The Lions responded quickly on their first drive of the second half. On only the fifth play of the half, Jonathan Jennings aired a crisp 31-yard pass to Shawn Gore who was able to just barely keep the tips of his toes inbounds to score a nice touchdown. After the convert the score was now 24-16.

The Lions later added a field goal from Richie Leone to give them a 27-16 lead.        

Late in the third quarter, the Lions were driving well yet and Jennings found Bo Burnham on an eight-yard touchdown pass. After the convert the score was now 34-19 and things were not looking good for Calgary heading into the fourth.

Calgary were not about to lay down to the Lions in this game. Tory Harrison scampered in from ten-yards out for a touchdown to get Calgary back in the game, making the score was 34-25. Calgary’s convert attempt was unsuccessful and the score stayed as such.

The Stampeders later scored a single to make it a 34-26 game.

With under five minutes left to go, B.C. found pay dirt again as Jennings threw a 12-yard touchdown completion to Geraldo Boldewijn. After the convert B.C. had what seemed like a huge 41-26 lead late in the game.

Not if Calgary had anything to say about it. On their very next drive Calgary were able to find the end zone again when Bo-Levi Mitchell found Greg Wilson again on a long 42-yard touchdown play.

Calgary were pushing hard for more points and were able to force an interception as Ciante Evans picked off Jennings with just under a minute and a half left, setting up a frantic final drive for Calgary.

Only two plays later the ball was in the B.C. endzone, as Bo-Levi Mitchell found Bakari Grant – who is no stranger to big catches from his time in Hamilton – and all of a sudden this game was a two-point convert away from being tied at 41-39 to the Lions.

Mitchell was money on the two-point convert as he found Anthony Parker to tie the game. Neither team could get anything else to close out regulation and so the game went to overtime.

On their first scrimmage series of overtime, Calgary were able to get a 42-yard field goal from Rene Parades to at least put them in the lead for when they would face B.C.’s scrimmage.

The Lions began their scrimmage series with what looked like a pretty promising drive as they soon found themselves in the Calgary red zone. Jennings, after a time out, dropped back and hurled what looked like it could be the game winning touchdown. Tommie Campbell was having none of that as he leapt up to intercept the pass and make a huge play to seal the win for the Stampeders.

This is a heartbreaking loss for the Lions as they looked good on offense all night. Jennings threw the ball well and Emmanuel Arcenaux was making solid catches all over the field. What did the Lions in on this night was their late game defense, as they just could not withstand the late Calgary push to tie the game and send it to overtime. Jonathan Jennings went 26/41 for 375-yards and three touchdowns but the stat that did him in were the two costly touchdowns late in this game.

The Stampeders once again showed why they are one of the top quality squads in the league. While their defense may have been inconsistent at times, the team never wavered in their belief to come back in this game, especially with that late surge in the fourth to send this game to overtime and now with the win, Calgary surpasses the Lions in the Western Division standings.

The Lions head to Montreal for a 7:00pm EST match-up on August 4 at Montreal. The Stampeders host Saskatchewan on August 4 as well, at 10:00pm EST.

Riccardo Di Stefano

RealSport's Lead CFL writer and also a contributor of NHL content. Riccardo currently pursues many media interests as a freelance Master Control Operator for Bell Media in Canada while also running his own, now affiliated stream on Twitch at Twitch.tv/RicD55.

Stampeders overcome Lions in overtime thriller

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