Stampeders double up Tiger-Cats in season opener
The Calgary Stampeders started slow and finished strong in a 28-14 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday.
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Kamar Jorden and Don Jackson rushed for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Terry Williams and Jackson both ran for two-point converts for the hosts.
Rene Paredes kicked field goals from 22, 17, 29 and 19 yards in front of an announced 23,717 at McMahon Stadium.
Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli rushed for a touchdown.
Lirim Hajrullahu kicked field goals from 41 and 44 yards for the Tiger-Cats, who have lost 13 in a row to the Stampeders. Hamilton's last win at McMahon was in 2004.
The Tiger-Cats were on the march to Calgary's end zone with less than two minutes remaining in the game, when veteran Calgary defensive back Brandon Smith intercepted Masoli.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel did not see action as Masoli's backup, so Manziel's CFL debut will have to wait.
Offence dormant for 3 quarters
The Stampeders couldn't finish a drive with a touchdown for three quarters. Calgary's first five trips to the red zone — within 20 yards of the goal line — yielded four field goals and an interception.
Mitchell completed 17-of-36 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown pass. Masoli finished 23 for 33 in passing for 302 yards.
Kickoff was under cloudy skies and a temperature of 12 degrees with a shower moving through late in the third quarter.
Hajrullahu's 44-yard field goal with just under five minutes remaining pulled the visitors within a touchdown.
Hamilton led 11-9 at halftime on Hajrullahu's 41-yard field goal on the final play.
The hosts got to Hamilton's doorstep with highlight-reel, one-handed grab by Juwan Brescacin in the second quarter, but Mitchell was intercepted by Cariel Brooks to give the Ticats the ball on their six-yard line.
Hamilton was unable to convert the turnover into points, however.
Masoli's 13-yard rushing touchdown after a 76-yard passing play to Mike Jones, plus a Hajrullahu convert, gave Hamilton a 7-6 lead to end the opening quarter.
Charlie Power's block of a Hajrullahu punt gave Calgary the ball on Hamilton's 34-yard-line late in the quarter. Calgary settled for Paredes field goal after Mitchell overthrew Eric Rogers in the end zone.
Starting from their own seven-yard line, the Stampeders finished their first drive of the game with a Paredes field goal. Mitchell's throw to the end zone on the previous play bounced off an upright.
Hamilton (41) and Calgary (40) rank first and second in the CFL in the number of returning players from last season.
Hamilton is in Edmonton to take on the Eskimos on Friday. The Stampeders are on the road against the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.