CALGARY — A young quarterback led his team to a CFL win Saturday, while one of the Canadian game’s greats continued to struggle.
Third-string quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell led the Stampeders to an enormous rally on Saturday as Calgary stormed back from a 24-point deficit for a 38-27 victory over the Montreal Alouettes.
"My mindset when I went in — we just made the comeback — was don’t let the offence sputter," said the 23-year-old Mitchell, a second-year pro from Eastern Washington University.
"We had to make sure we went out there and got a couple of touchdowns and get ahead in this game."
The Alouettes suffered their third straight loss under new head coach Dan Hawkins and are 1-3. The Stampeders improved to 3-1.
Jon Cornish scored a pair of second-half touchdowns and Mitchell led two drives after coming on for starter Kevin Glenn, who injured his right elbow in the third quarter.
Mitchell finished with a pair of TD passes on 7-of-13 throwing for 49 yards. He also had a 26-yard run.
Glenn was starting for the second straight week in place of Drew Tate, who strained a muscle in his right arm in a loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders July 5.
Mitchell came on when Glenn was rocked by Aaron Lavaris when delivering a 45-yard pass to Marquay McDaniel. Glenn didn’t appear too hurt after the contest.
"I never got the strength back in it," he said. "I felt the way the game was going it was best if Bo went in and gave us a spark."
It looked like Montreal was going to take out its offensive frustration on the Stampeders after back-to-back losses at home, including a 22-14 loss to Calgary last week. The normally explosive Anthony Calvillo-led Montreal offence scored only 11 points in a defeat at the hands of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers the week before that.
The Alouettes put up three touchdowns and a field goal to open up a 24-0 lead after one quarter. Drives of 82 and 79 yards were capped off by Brandon Whitaker’s two-yard scoring run and S.J. Green’s catch-and-run for a 59-yard score. Jerome Messam ran in from four yards.
That was most of the Alouettes offence, though. Calvillo was 9-of-13 for 167 in the first half but 9-of-17 for 76 in the second.
"It’s frustrating when you’re losing, especially when everyone is playing so hard," said Calvillo, who turns 41 in August.
"We did solid out there in the first quarter but after that … . I’m not saying we went back to our old ways, but we were inconsistent. I can’t tell you why, but today that’s the way it was for whatever reason."
Calgary woke up and dominated after the first quarter, during which they only had 23 total yards.
Mitchell, who saw spot duty in the game before Glenn’s injury, lobbed a one-yard TD pass to Tim St. Pierre. Glenn found Nik Lewis with a five-yard strike and Rene Parades kicked field goals of 27 and 41 yards to close the gap to 24-19 at the break.
The Stampeders took the lead for good with 4:57 left in the third quarter. Mitchell found Cornish with an 11-yard scoring pass to finish off a 89-yard drive for a 28-24 advantage.
The Alouettes looked like they would get the lead back on the ensuing kickoff. Noel Devine was about to cross the Calgary goal-line on the return but Fred Bennett punched the ball loose and it was recovered in the end zone by Alvin Bowen.
"It was the play of the game," said Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel. "That was a 14-point swing. It took seven points off their board and we got the ball at the 25 and marched down for a touchdown.
"It was kind of an indication of our team in this game. No matter how bad it looked we played to the last whistle and never gave up."
The Stampeders indeed drove again right away and Cornish ran in his second touchdown from 21 yards out. Cornish finished with 109 yards on 11 rushing attempts.
Paredes finished with four field goals to close to within one of tying B.C. Lions’ Paul McCallum for the CFL record of 30 consecutive regular season field goals. His tying attempt from 35 yards with 1:04 to go was blocked by John Bowman. It doesn’t count as a missed field goal, but is considered a fumble.
NOTES – Scratches for Calgary were linebackers Jonathan Hefney and Yannick Carter, receiver Maurice Price and offensive lineman Spencer Wilson … Out for Montreal were receiver Tyson Carrier, offensive lineman Anthony Barrette, defensive tackle Moton Hopkins and defensive end Bo Adebayo… The Stampeders held pre-game ceremonies to honour former player, coach and general manager Jack Gotta and radio personality Billy Powers. Powers and his wife Donna Lee were murdered July 4. Gotta died June 29 at the age of 83 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.