CALGARY (CP) - The Calgary Stampeders did what they had to do to stay in the race for first place in the CFL's West Division. The defending Grey Cup champions cruised to a 42-19 win over the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.
Tied with the Edmonton Eskimos at 13-4, Calgary's playoff prospects shift to a game they will watch, not play.
The Stampeders await the outcome of Sunday's game between the Esks and the Montreal Alouettes to know which post-season game Calgary might host.
The Eskimos are positioned to end the suspense as a victory against the Als (6-10) gives Edmonton top spot in West and the division final. An Edmonton loss keeps first place on the table for the Stampeders in their final game of the regular season.
"I just told the team we'll keep an eye on the game, but we'll take whatever path we need to take to try to accomplish what we want to get to,'' Stampeder head coach and general manager John Hufnagel said.
Calgary is already guaranteed a home playoff game - either the division semifinal Nov. 15 or division final Nov. 22. The Eskimos won the season series between the Alberta rivals, which means Edmonton is seeded higher in the event of a tie.
While Edmonton finishes the regular season on a bye week, Calgary closes out against the B.C. Lions (7-10) next Saturday in Vancouver.
The Stampeders went 8-1 at McMahon Stadium this season, which equals their season-high in eight seasons under Hufnagel. Calgary's home record was 8-1 in 2013.
"We definitely would have liked to be 9-0, but it's good to win at home,'' Stampeder receiver Eric Rogers said. "We know we're going to have a home playoff game, so that's important.''
Rogers caught touchdown passes on Calgary's first two possessions of the game.
"We made a conscious effort to start fast,'' said Rogers. "We haven't scored off an opening drive, just field goals really. We wanted to get a touchdown and that was big just to know we can do that.''
With 96 receiving yards in the game, Rogers padded his league-leading total to 1,448. Joe West rang up 102 receiving yards and caught a touchdown pass.
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell completed 21-of-29 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He was replaced late in the fourth quarter by Drew Tate, who threw two passes for 22 yards.
Backup quarterback Bryant Moniz scored a rushing touchdown for Calgary in front of an announced 31,591 at McMahon.
Jerome Messam rumbled for 121 yards on 15 carries and contributed a two-point convert in his Stampeder debut. Calgary acquired the Toronto native from Saskatchewan in a trade Oct. 14.
Calgary kicker Rene Paredes was successful on four field-goal attempts to reach a career 203. Marquay McDaniel caught a two-point convert pass.
Saskatchewan's Anthony Allen ran for a touchdown and Naaman Roosevelt caught another. Kicker Tyler Crapigna, acquired in the Messam traded, booted a pair of field goals against his former club.
Brett Smith started at quarterback for the visitors and completed 10-of-13 pass attempts for 90 yards by halftime. Keith Price was 15 for 26 in passing for 183 yards and a touchdown pass in the second half.
No playoff scenario applies to the Roughriders (2-15), who close out their season against the Alouettes next week.
"Everybody at this time of the year wants to be playing for something,'' Roughrider defensive lineman John Chick said.
"We've got one more (game) to try to shine and do something positive, end on a high note, but no, this season is no where near what we wanted it to be. We've got a lot of work to do.''
Mitchell said he won't be glued to the television Sunday afternoon.
"Can't control anything and I'm not going to get my feelings upset about whether or not we get first place this year,'' Calgary's quarterback said.
Sunday's game also impacts the post-season prospects of the Lions. The Eskimos can knock the Alouettes out of contention for a cross-over playoff berth and ensure B.C. finishes third in the division.
(Photo: Johany Jutras)
HEAD COACH BOB DYCE
- Calgary jumped out to a fast start and it would've been easy for our guys to quit but I don't think they did. They fought right to the end. Calgary's a good team and they scored somewhat easily. You can't give them chances.
- I feel bad our guys gave up that 60-yard return to open the game. They've done a great job all season and they were very disappointed. It set the tone for the game I guess, but one drive doesn't decide a game.
- Brett started out well and then we had some 2-and-outs. Then he came back and put together a nice drive. We talked about it this week; we wanted to be consistent but weren't in that first half. Keith came in and had a really nice drive to start the second half. It seemed he faced more pressure than Brett did. He kept his eyes downfield and you saw that on that strike to Weston. He showed he's a CFL-level quarterback.
- Marcus Davis was in on limited packages. We look forward to seeing him grow. When you look at this size, catch-radius and fundamentals, I look forward to seeing him some more.
- Keenan MacDougall separated his other shoulder and Chris Getzlaf feels like he tore the rest of his foot. He stressed his previous injury and took it to another level.
- A credit to the guys in the secondary - we sustained an injury in Day 3 of practice that affected how we were going to line up. Then we had to move guys into different spots so they were at a disadvantage but they fought through. You have to be super-confident and know where you're supposed to be. They battled but it was a new group when you saw how they aligned.
- It's a great opportunity (next week in Montreal) to get the road win that's eluded us. Also for some guys it'll be the last opportunity to show whoever's here or themselves what type of player they are. These guys fight and are committed and I never question that. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we have and this is a big one. We have to get out there and play another one.
REC WESTON DRESSLER
- I think the biggest thing these past few weeks is getting these young QBs comfortable and a feel of the CFL with a consistent offense. They've done a good job at times moving the ball. The big thing now is consistency and it's fun watching them grow up and become better players.
- They both throw the ball a little bit differently as all QBs do. One's not better than the other that way but it's our job as receivers to make that catch.
- My totals surprised me a bit. I don't track it like some guys do but a few big plays saw those numbers go up.
- It has been a tough year obviously with the record where we're at. I've never been one to dwell on personal numbers. I do what I can to help the team one and the numbers take care of themselves.
- It'll be great to have Darian back next year. He's shown what he can do in this league and he can be one of the best, if not the best, when he's playing well. If this is our crew of three QBs going into next year, that'll be a good group.
CB PAUL WOLDU
- It felt pretty good. Any chance you get to go out there, you want to make the most of it. It's great to make plays but as a defense, we didn't play as well as we could of obviously.
- Especially in the backfield, you need continuity. With Calgary's DBs, they've all played together so they know where guys are going to be. But in the CFL you have to be ready to play multiple positions especially with the ratio.
- You have to make the plays. I've been around this league for awhile and I've been fortunate to make plays. Messam is athletic and big, but you have to do the right things to bring him down.
- It's been a blessing this year. You can't take this game for granted and I take it as seriously as possible. To be at an all-time low, and then come back and get to play more than I ever have, it's been a rollercoast. I want to be here and I want to be with this team.