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Monday, October 16, 2017

MONDAY RIDER PRACTICE REPORT


REGINA - The Roughriders returned to the practice field on Monday for the first time since Friday's 33-32 home loss to the Ottawa RedBlacks.

Here are some notes:

- The team officially announced on Monday morning that 11-year veteran Canadian receiver Chris Getzlaf has signed a practice roster contract with the club. Getzlaf said it "couldn't feel better" to be back with his hometown team. The 34-year old revealed that he asked for his release from the Edmonton Eskimos two weeks ago and has been in Regina ever since.

- Rider Coach Chris Jones said Getzlaf approached the team and "wanted to be a part of what we're doing."

- Getzlaf wore #71 in practice on Monday, which was his original number with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during training camp in 2007. He said he doesn't plan on asking veteran Rider receiver Duron Carter to give up his traditional #89.

- Chris Jones revealed after practice that leading rusher Cameron Marshall will return to the backfield after missing several weeks due to injury. Meanwhile Chad Owens lined up at slotback in place of the injured Naaman Roosevelt on Monday. Jones said that's likely the way things will go in Friday's game at Calgary.

- Jones also confirmed that left guard Derek Dennis will miss this game with a back injury and his absence means veteran lineman Dan Clark will be activated for the Calgary game.

- Regarding Friday's 33-32 loss to Ottawa in which the Riders blew a 12-point lead with five minutes to go, Jones said, "I've got to do a better job managing the game. You can put this one on me."

RP
@rodpedersen

OUT OF THE TUNNEL FOR PIZZA, PIZZA


By: RodPedersen.com Staff

As we head Out of the Tunnel this Monday morning, I’m sure Rider fans are still wondering, “What the heck happened Friday night?”

If you were told that the Green & White were in the redzone nine times and only punted twice all game, it would be safe to assume that would be enough for the win. But (we offer you the saying that everything said before “BUT” is B.S.) of those nine entries into the red zone, the result was only a pair of touchdowns, six field goals and a Jonathan Rose interception in the end zone. It all added up to a 33-32 comeback win for Ottawa over Saskatchewan.

Granted that's still 32 points, and for as well as the Rider defence has played the last couple of months, it should have been enough to seal the victory against a Redblacks team that will finish the season under .500.

So, what did happen? Simply put, the Riders couldn’t cash in on their multiple opportunities and allowed Ottawa to hang on like grim death for three-and-a-half quarters before finally coming alive late in the fourth.

Ottawa is much better than their 7-9-1 record states and are looking more like the defending Grey Cup champs than they did when the Riders visited Ottawa just a few weeks back. Quarterback Trevor Harris returned to form in the second half and looked fully recovered from a shoulder injury he suffered on September 9th against Hamilton.

The Redblacks were able to protect Harris, they took some chances (Brett Maher’s successful fake punt), converted on every opportunity given to them (interception return for a TD) and in the end the Riders didn’t step on Ottawa’s throat when they had the chance.

Let’s hope this is a tough lesson that the Green & White will learn from.

To be successful in the final three games of the regular season and into the playoffs, if the opportunity to put a team away is presented to them, THEY MUST take advantage of it.

It is not all doom and gloom for the Riders. All they need is a win or a B.C. loss and they return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Plus, the offence is looking like it’s starting to get back into form and the special teams look great.

The remaining three games will be a great litmus test of where this team is at heading into the post-season. It starts Friday night in Calgary. The last time the Riders visited the Stampeders, it was a nightmare. The 27-10 loss looked a lot better on the scoreboard than it should have. Kevin Glenn was sacked five times in the first half and the offence could generate just 252 total yards.

To knock off the Stampeders for the first time at home this season would send a message to the rest of the CFL that the Riders will be incredibly difficult to deal with in the playoffs.

GETZ IS BACK

Fans caught a glimpse of him on the field Friday night  wearing 84 and not the customary 89 during 2007 Grey Cup team celebrations. That was a bit of a throwback for Getzlaf as 84 was his number the first year he came to the Riders which coincidentally was the year they broke their lengthy Grey Cup drought. Fans will now get to see him back on the field for real as the Green & White signed the veteran receiver this weekend and should bolster a beat up Canadian receiving core. If he does see the field, it will be interesting to see what number he will wear because Duron Carter has put 89 to good use already this season.


CFL NOTEBOOK

- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers all but sewed up a home playoff date with their 26-20 victory over the B.C. Lions on Saturday, but it wasn’t all rosy. Maurice Leggett will be out the for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles suffered when he recovered a short kick at the tail end of the game. The 31-year-old linebacker was more than likely going to be their team nominee for defensive MVP and will be a huge hole to fill for the Bombers.

- It’s all but over for the Lions but it’s not their defence’s fault. They held Matt Nichols and the Bomber offence out of the end zone and limited them to just 262 total yards. After the roaring start the Lions had to the season, there will be a lot of questions for Wally Buono to answer about his team in this off-season.

- The Edmonton Eskimos are now winners of back-to-back games with their 30-27 road win in Toronto. Mike Reilly now has a full assortment of tools at his disposal. With Derel Walker returning to form after his NFL shot, Brandon Zylstra turning into one of the top young receivers in the game and the addition of C.J. Gable to the backfield have been a boon for the offence. The glaring omission is Adarius Bowman. The veteran receiver has just 29 catches for 293 yards this season with just a single 100-yard effort.

PFC WRAP

It was a wild semi-final Sunday in the PFC and when the dust settled, it will be an all-Saskatchewan final.

The Regina Thunder went on the road and upset the Edmonton Huskies 24-21 at Clarke Park in Edmonton. Regina trailed 11-4 after the first half but outpaced the Huskies in the second half to get to their fourth PFC Championship game.

They will face the Saskatoon Hilltops who outlasted the visiting Winnipeg Rifles 28-21. Logan Fischer led the way for the Hilltops with 105 yards on the ground in the victory.

This is Saskatoon’s 11th-straight PFC final and the fourth time they will face the Thunder. The last time was in 2013 when Regina won 21-16 en route to their only Canadian Bowl title.


CANADA WEST DIARY

The Regina Rams (4-2) needed a little extra time, but in the end, they clinched a playoff berth with a 58-55 victory over a much improving Alberta Golden Bears team. Atlee Simon ran roughshod over the Golden Bear defence with 206 yards rushing and a touchdown while adding another 59 yards receiving and two more scores. Ed Ilnicki matched Simon on the ground with 201 yards rushing for Alberta (who fell to 1-5 with the loss).

It was too little too late for the Saskatchewan Huskies. The UBC Thunderbirds held off the visiting Huskies 29-25 despite letting up 23-fourth quarter points. Michael O’Connor threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the winning effort. With the victory, UBC (4-2) stays tied with the Rams for second in the Canada West, while the Huskies (2-4) dropped their fourth in a row and are just one game ahead of both the Manitoba Bisons and Alberta Golden Bears for fourth.

The Manitoba Bisons (1-5) gave the number two team in the country all they could handle, but in the end, the Calgary Dinos (6-0) escaped Winnipeg with the 36-27 victory. Manitoba led 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter, but it was all Calgary in the final frame with 16-straight points. Defence led the way for Canada West’s top team with four sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

This week:
Saturday, October 21st (All times local):
UBC at Manitoba 2:00pm
Saskatchewan at Alberta 1:00pm
Calgary at Regina 2:00pm

A CANADIAN TO WATCH IN THE NCAA
Brendan O’Leary-Orange – Rec
University of Nevada
6’4” 210lbs.
Hometown – Toronto, Ont.
Class – Rs-Soph.

After seeing limited action as a redshirt freshman, O’Leary-Orange is having a solid sophomore year with the Wolfpack. The Toronto native broke out Saturday night in a 44-42 loss to Colorado State. He had four catches for 111-yards and his first NCAA touchdown.

Brendan has a great football pedigree. His father, Doyle O’Leary-Orange played in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Ti-Cats.

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

GETZLAF SIGNS WITH RIDERS

REGINA - A familiar face is returning to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

620 CKRM has learned the Roughriders have signed veteran Canadian wide receiver Chris Getzlaf.

The move was confirmed by the football club on Sunday.

Getzlaf - a 34-year old Regina product - was released by the Edmonton Eskimos last month after originally signing with the Esks in 2016.

Getzlaf was drafted by Hamilton out of the U of R in 2007 but spent the next 10 seasons with his hometown Roughriders, winning two Grey Cups and being named the 2013 Grey Cup Most Outstanding Canadian.

The Riders have injuries at the Canadian receiver position including Nic Demski and Devon Bailey.

The Riders return to the practice field on Monday for the first time since Friday's 33-32 home loss to Ottawa.

The 8-7 Riders visit Calgary Friday night.

RP
@rodpedersen

PATS DOWN EDMONTON 3-2 IN OT

Keith Hershmiller Photography
Regina – The Regina Pats won a second consecutive game in overtime on Sunday, 3-2 over the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Brandt Centre.

The game’s first goal did not come until the second period when the Edmonton powerplay broke through thanks to Connor McDonald to make it 1-0. Matt Bradley tied it for the Pats with his ninth, just over 10 minutes later, but less than a minute after that, Davis Koch scored on a breakaway and the Oil Kings led 2-1 after two periods.

In the third, Sam Steel drew the Pats even with a powerplay goal at 11:20, his fourth of the year and that eventually forced overtime.

Regina started the extra frame on the powerplay and a minute in, Emil Oksanen finished off a beautiful passing play with Sam Steel and Josh Mahura and the Pats won 3-2.

Regina outshot Edmonton 30-26, the powerplay was two for four and the penalty kill three for four.

Josh Mahura led the offence with a three assist night, Sam Steel and Matt Bradley each had a goal and an assist and Tyler Brown made 24 saves in the victory.

Quick Hits
- The Pats recorded back to back wins for the first time this season.
- Matt Bradley extended his point streak to 10 games (9G, 11A).
- Josh Mahura has two goals and three assists in his last three games played.

What’s Next?
The Pats (5-4-1) are back in action on Wednesday when they host the Brandon Wheat Kings at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre. Tickets are available at reginapats.com, the Brandt Centre Box office and at all Regina Safeway locations, Safeway Funzone tickets are just $13 plus tax.

SPORTS DOCTOR'S WEEK 6 NFL PICKS FOR 4 SEASONS SPORTS PALACE

Last week I went 8-6 (51-26) and 8-6 (41-36) against the spread.

Cleveland Browns (0-5) at Houston Texans (2-3) 
Line: Texans by 10

Even after losing JJ Watt, Houston will have enough to put this game away in the first quarter. Take the Texans to win and cover.

New England Patriots (3-2) at New York Jets (3-2) 
Line: Patriots by 9.5

Despite the fact New England’s play barely resembles last year’s team, there’s no way the Jets beat them even at home. Take the Patriots to win and cover.

Miami Dolphins (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1) 
Line: Falcons by 11.5

Despite how well the Miami defense has played, they're not going to be able to fully stop Atlanta’s offense who may score 40 points on Sunday…or more. Take the Falcons to win and cover.

Detroit Lions (3-2) at New Orleans Saints (2-2) 
Line: Saints by 4.5

The Lions are coming off a tough home loss to Carolina, while New Orleans is well rested after their bye. New Orleans seemed to find something on defense in the two games before the bye and I think the momentum carries. Take the Saints to win and cover.

The Sports Doctor
Green Bay Packers (4-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-2) 
Line: Packers by 3

It doesn’t matter who Minnesota plays at QB, they are no Aaron Rodgers, who has proven he can win in loud enemy stadiums. Take the Packers to win and cover.

Chicago Bears (1-4) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2) 
Line: Ravens by 6.5

Mitchel Trubisky will one day be a good NFL QB, but that day won’t be an October afternoon in Baltimore. Take the Ravens to win and cover.

San Francisco 49ers (0-5) at Washington Redskins (2-2) 
Line: Redskins by 10

The 49ers may not be as bad as the other 0-5 teams, but they won’t put out much of a fight against a Washington team that went toe to toe last week against the Chiefs. Take the Redskins to win and cover.

Los Angeles Rams (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) 
Line: Jaguars by 2.5

Jacksonville can score and their defense is good, and they face a Rams team who played a tough physical game losing to Seattle. Take the Jaguars to win and cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at Arizona Cardinals (2-3) 
Line: Buccaneers by 1.5

Arizona lost big to the Eagles last week, but I expect a big bounce back at home. Take the Cardinals in an upset.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) 
Line: Chiefs by 4.5

I expect Pittsburgh to put in a better performance this week, so this should be an exciting game with a ton of offense. KC is for real. Take the Chiefs to win and cover.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) at Oakland Raiders (2-3) 
Line: No Line

Oakland may not have Derek Carr again in this one and this means a fourth consecutive loss. Take the Chargers.

New York Giants (0-5) at Denver Broncos (3-1) 
Line: Broncos by 12

Denver has playing excellent football, and considering the Giants have no running game and will be using their fourth string receivers, this one looks pretty easy. Take the Broncos to win and cover.

Indianapolis Colts (2-3) at Tennessee Titans (2-3) 
Line:

Tennessee has lost two straight games, but should have Marcus Mariota back for this one. Go with the home team. Take the Titans

RAMS BEAT GOLDEN BEARS 58-55 IN OT, CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH

ReginaRams.com
EDMONTON – It was a game that at times more closely resembled a basketball game than a mid-season football game, but the University of Regina Rams were finally able to come away with a 58-55 double-overtime victory over Alberta on Saturday at Foote Field.

After both teams scored majors in the first overtime, the No. 8-ranked Rams got a big break in the second overtime when Brent Arthur’s field goal attempt for Alberta from 41 yards out glanced off the right upright. That meant the Rams only needed a single point to win it, and they got three when Daniel Scraper punched a 26-yard field goal right down the middle to put an end to the third highest-scoring game in Canada West history.

The win improves Regina’s record to 4-2 on the season and the Rams lock up a postseason berth thanks to Calgary’s win over Manitoba.

“They’re a formidable opponent and we knew they were going to be with the way they can run the ball,” Rams head coach Steve Bryce said. “Records be damned, we knew we were in for a battle and that’s exactly what happened today. Our boys played tough for four quarters and beyond, and hats off to the U of A because their players did as well.”

Not surprisingly given that it was the most combined points ever scored in a game involving the Rams and the most points they’ve ever scored on the road, a monumental list of individual accomplishments piled up during the afternoon. Atlee Simon became the University of Regina’s all-time touchdown king after a career-long 53-yard rush for a major in the first half, and Mitchell Picton passed Chad Goldie as the school’s all-time leader in touchdown catches after hauling in the 22nd of his career for the Rams’ first points of the game. Noah Picton tied former Rams quarterback Teale Orban for Canada West’s all-time lead in completions and and also needs just 18 more passing yards to surpass Orban for first in conference history in that category as well.

Simon had a huge outing for the second consecutive game, finishing with 25 rushes for 206 yards as well as catching five passes for a total of 59 yards to set a new career high with 265 all-purpose yards in the win. Two of his catches were for majors and the fourth-year running back added one more touchdown on the ground, marking the sixth time in his Rams career he’s finished with at least three scores.

Noah Picton, who completed 34 of his 45 pass attempts for a total of 386 yards and four touchdowns while also running one in himself, hit Mitchell Picton and Ryan Schienbein for majors in addition to the two to Simon. Schienbein was the team’s top receiver with 10 catches for 112 yards, while Picton had six catches for 102 yards and Kyle Moortgat accumulated 90 yards on his nine catches.

In perhaps the unlikeliest touchdown scored by the Rams in recent years, they also scored a third-quarter touchdown on a pass from short-yardage quarterback Frankie Gray to defensive lineman Eric Wicijowski. It was Wicijowski’s first career touchdown, and Gray’s first touchdown pass since he connected with Connor Haas in a game way back during the 2012 campaign.

The Rams forced five turnovers in the victory, three of which came off interceptions by Nick Cross, Polis Koko, and Braedy Will. Nicholas Dheilly had a big late forced fumble for the second consecutive game, knocking the ball loose from Ilnicki deep in Rams territory and into Cole Benkic’s hands with under five minutes to go. The Rams also had a turnover on special teams when Ryder Varga – playing his first career game – knocked the ball loose from Alberta’s Nathan Rowe on a punt return with Will there for the recovery.

The Rams will now prepare for a showdown against No. 2-ranked and unbeaten Calgary next Saturday afternoon (2:00) at Mosaic Stadium. The Dinos improved to 6-0 after their tight 36-27 win over Manitoba today.

(Braden Konshuh/U of R Athletics)

SUNDAY SPORTS

Jaromir Jagr has his first point as a Calgary Flame. The 45-year-old veteran had an assist on Calgary's fourth goal in its 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The point was the 1,915th of Jagr's career in his third game with the club. The Czech winger signed a one-year deal with the Flames earlier this month. Dougie Hamilton led Calgary with two goals.

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The Ottawa Senators have swept the West Coast. Mike Hoffman had two goals and an assist as the Senators downed the Edmonton Oilers 6-1. Ottawa won for a third straight game after beating Calgary last night and Vancouver earlier this week. Derick Brassard, Zack Smith, Chris Wideman and Kyle Turris also scored for the Senators.

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Auston Matthews's strong start to the season continued tonight in Montreal. He scored his second goal of the game 48 seconds into overtime to lift Toronto to a 4-3 victory over the Canadiens. It was his fifth goal in five games this season. Meanwhile, Nikolaj Ehlers scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season as the Jets edged Carolina 2-1.

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Two more playoff spots in the CFL West Division have been decided. The Edmonton Eskimos rallied to beat the Toronto Argonauts 30-27 to give them at least the cross-over spot in the West. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the B-C Lions 26-20 to also earn a playoff spot in the West. Only one more spot is up for grabs between B-C and Saskatchewan.

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The Dodgers have the upper hand early in the NLCS. Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning as L-A downed the Chicago Cubs 5-2 in the championship series opener. Yasiel Puig (yah-see-EHL' pweeg) added a homer and an R-B-I double. Game 2 goes later today (Sunday) with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago's Jon Lester.

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Justin Verlander continues to be dominant in the post-season. The Astros starter went the distance and struck out a playoff career-high 13 as Houston topped the Yankees 2-1 for a two-games-to-none lead in the ALCS. Verlander improved to 3-0 in this post-season and 8-0 since being acquired from the Tigers at the August trade deadline.

(Canadian Press)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

ESKS DOWN ARGOS 30-27, CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH

EDMONTON - Derel Walker's six-yard touchdown reception with 57 seconds left propelled the Edmonton Eskimos to a 30-27 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday night to clinch a CFL playoff berth.

Walker's catch came after a 21-yard, third-down reception by Brandon Zylstra and a costly illegal contact penalty against Toronto.

Korey Jones picked off a deflected Ricky Ray pass with seconds left to ensure the victory.

The Eskimos' drive came just after the Argos had put together a lengthy scoring drive of their own to take a 27-23 lead with three minutes left.

Back-up quarterback Cody Fajardo hit running back Declan Cross with a two-yard pass to give the Argonauts their only lead of the game.

Fajardo finished off a 10-play, 75-yard drive begun by quarterback Ricky Ray immediately after Edmonton had taken a 23-20 lead on Swayze Waters's third field goal of the night.

(The Canadian Press)

BOMBERS TOP LIONS 26-20, CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH

WINNIPEG - Kevin Fogg returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown and T.J. Heath took an interception return 64 yards for another TD as the Blue Bombers clinched a playoff spot in the CFL West Division with a 26-20 victory over the B.C. Lions on Saturday afternoon.

Winnipeg's (11-4) playoff picture could get a boost after Saturday night's game between the Edmonton Eskimos and visiting Toronto Argonauts. An Edmonton loss would give the Bombers a home playoff date for the first time since 2011.

Brian Burnham had a pair of fourth-quarter TD catches for the Lions (6-9), whose playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

Bombers starting quarterback Matt Nichols wore a modified glove on his throwing hand to protect his injured ring finger. The ring and pinkie fingers were inside the glove and the thumb, index and middle fingers exposed.

Nichols completed 23 of 30 pass attempts with no TDs and no interceptions. Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings was 24 of 39 for 267 yards with two TDs and two interceptions in front of 26,434 fans at Investors Group Field.

Fogg's first-quarter punt-return TD was the first official one of his CFL career. Last season as a rookie, the defensive back had four punt returns for TDs all wiped out because of penalties.

(The Canadian Press)

UNIVERSAL COLLISION CENTRE RECAP: REDBLACKS 33 RIDERS 32


REGINA - The Ottawa Redblacks are heating up at the right time.

Quarterback Trevor Harris and the Ottawa Redblacks came-from-behind for an improbable 33-32 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night that earned the defending Grey Cup champions a playoff berth for the third consecutive year.

Harris marched the Redblacks to two late fourth quarter touchdowns and Ryan Lindley's one-yard TD run with two seconds remaining secured the win.

"This league is about just getting into the dance and getting hot late,'' Harris said after his team improved to 7-9-1 and moved into first place in the East Division. "Tonight was not pretty. We didn't have our best offensively, defensively or on special teams. But we found a way to win.

"I'm sure Saskatchewan is sick right now because they outplayed us tonight.''

The Riders (8-7) had won six of their previous eight games after a dismal 2-4 start to the year.

Defensive back Ed Gainey said his team's performance late in the fourth quarter reminded him of the early stages of the season.

"We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,'' Gainey said. "This is just another episode of what we looked like at the beginning of the season. We keep getting penalties to keep drives going or penalties that back us up. We just have to do better.''

Saskatchewan assumed a 32-20 lead with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. That's when Harris and company pushed back.

Harris hooked up with Greg Ellingson for an 11-yard touchdown with 3:09 remaining to cut the deficit to five.

The Ottawa defence forced a Saskatchewan punt on the ensuing possession, and Harris repeated his previous drive.

Three straight completions moved the ball to the Saskatchewan nine-yard line. Harris looked again for Ellingson deep, but Gainey was flagged for pass interference and the ball moved to the one-yard line to set up Lindley's score.

"We had the game right where we wanted it,'' Gainey said. "We just couldn't find a way to execute at the end of the game. They kept fighting, kept coming at us and eventually came out victorious.''

Harris completed 17-of-33 pass attempts for 262 yards and two touchdowns. He was without the services of Brad Sinopoli, while Ellingson - the league's leading receiver - was limited to just two catches for 13 yards.

Still, Harris was proud of the character his teammates showed on the road.

"It doesn't bother us where we play,'' Harris said. "We're a tight-knit group and I think we're getting better at the right time and hopefully we can go into the playoffs on a great note.''

On the flipside, Kevin Glenn responded with a solid performance after getting pulled from the previous game. Glenn threw for 387 yards on 29-for-39 pass attempts. Duron Carter enjoyed a monster performance with 11 catches for 231 yards.

With the loss, the Riders failed to clinch a playoff berth. Their magic number to earn a playoff spot is "1".

Now, they'll travel to Calgary next week with hopes of a road win over a team they're winless against this season.

"We're very frustrated. We get into situations like this that are supposed to propel us higher in the standings and we just need to take advantage of it,'' Gainey said. "We need to keep fighting.''

Tyler Crapigna kicked six field goals for Saskatchewan.

(Canadian Press)

CHRIS JONES POSTGAME COMMENTS

- When you make enough mistakes to leave people in the game, have to kick field goals, take penalties to extend their drives, and leave their offense on the field, situationally we have to be better.

- Did our players think they had it won? You'd have to ask them.

- You watched the game. You tell me how it slipped away. We get a turnover with five minutes to go and the game's probably over. But we take a penalty, and then can't cover in man coverage. That's why we lost the game.

RP
@rodpedersen

STAMPEDERS 28 TICATS 25

HAMILTON - On a night when he wasn't at his best, a Bo Levi Mitchell incompletion moved the Calgary Stampeders closer to clinching top spot in the West Division.

Rene Paredes' 17-yard field goal on the final play earned Calgary a hard-fought 28-25 win over a spirited Hamilton squad Friday night. Paredes' boot was possible thanks to a pass-interference call on defender Courtney Stephens following Mitchell's jump-ball throw to Anthony Parker that moved the Stamps 62 yards to the Tiger-Cats' 10-yard line.

"I'll be honest, I understand how to win a football game,'' Mitchell said. "P.I. is a very big thing, it's a very good weapon to use.

"Sure, I love to throw touchdowns but you've got to understand situation-wise if you don't get the ball there a completion is game over. I put the ball up high, let a guy come back to it and go jump for it and obviously let someone try run through him and get a penalty. It was a good job by Parker coming back to it but that's kind of how you draw it up there in the end.''

Stephens made no excuses for the penalty.

"I let my team down,'' said the Brampton, Ont., native. "It's a 50-50 ball and you like to think the odds are in our favour but I didn't make the play.

"I'm not going to change the way I play, I'm still going to be aggressive and try to make plays. If it's really a 50-50 ball that means the next one I got it.''

Mitchell, the CFL's outstanding player last season, was 19-of-34 passing for 279 yards with a TD and interception. The league's top-scoring offence (29.4 points per game) managed just 306 net yards against Hamilton, holding the ball for just 25 minutes 43 seconds.

"I'll go watch the film but it's more physical than mental,'' Mitchell said. "Just go out there and get the body right and go out there and have a better game.''

Friday's contest was in stark contrast to the last time the two teams met when Calgary throttled Hamilton 60-1 at McMahon Stadium on July 29. However, that was with Kent Austin as Ticats head coach and Zach Collaros the starter.

Hamilton (4-11) fell to 4-3 under interim head coach June Jones, whose first decision was to make backup Jeremiah Masoli his starter. Masoli was 24-of-41 for 326 yards with an interception and rushed for 29 yards while Brandon Banks had 11 catches for 115 yards.

"Actually, I thought it was going to play out like this,'' said Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson. "I thought it was going to be a very very difficult game, I knew it would go 60 minutes.

"I know the desperation Hamilton was playing with, they have good players and they've been playing well. I felt it would come down, not necessarily to the last play, but right to the end and it did.''

Paredes' field goal came after Hamilton's Alex Green scored on a one-yard run with 36 seconds remaining that Kenny Allen converted. It was set up by a pass interference call on Calgary's Jamar Wall that gave the Ticats the ball at the Stampeders' one-yard line, delighting the Tim Hortons Field gathering of 23,672.

Green's TD came after Mitchell hit Kamar Jorden with a 25-yard scoring strike. The two then combined on the two-point convert at 10:01 to put Calgary ahead 25-18.

Calgary (13-1-1) improved to 16-0 coming off the bye and earned its 11th straight victory. The Stampeders will cement the top spot in the West Division - and host the conference final - if the B.C. Lions beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday night.

Hamilton's loss clinched Toronto (7-8) a playoff berth and a home game. The Argos visit the Edmonton Eskimos (8-6) on Saturday.

Pouring salt in the wound, the Tiger-Cats were eliminated from the post-season after the Ottawa Redblacks beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 33-32 later Friday night. Hamilton's elimination also means the fourth-place team in the West Division will cross over and become the third playoff seed in the East.

(Canadian Press)