CALGARY — Reggie Begelton didn’t have to look far for motivation on Labour Day at McMahon Stadium.
After catching a pair of touchdown passes from Jake Maier to lead his Calgary Stampeders to a 26-18 victory over the Edmonton Elks, Begelton praised the 30,479 fans in the stands for their support.
“When you get the crowd in it, it makes it that much sweeter,” said Begelton, who caught five passes for 57 yards. “The juices get going. You don’t have to find it. It’s there already.”
Maier referred to Begelton as a “big-time player” who has worked hard this season and the Calgary quarterback was happy to see the talented receiver succeed on such a big stage as the Labour Day Classic.
“He hasn’t always had everything go his way this year,” said Maier, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 238 yards. “He hasn’t always had the ball come his direction. In one of our biggest games of the year on Labour Day, he shows up and scores two touchdowns.
“He’s just a real even-keeled guy, really unselfish. When you have those types of guys, these are the things that can happen for them. He’s a great leader for us and it was awesome to see.”
Calgary coach Dave Dickenson said he had a feeling that Begelton would come up with a big game against the Elks.
“I’m not surprised,” Dickenson said. “I just thought he’s been doing all the little things, all the hard work. I do think he’s one of our best workers. I think he’s a very unselfish person.”
Ka’Deem Carey had a rushing touchdown for the Stampeders (7-4), who avenged a 32-20 loss to the Elks a year ago during the annual Labour Day Classic contest.
Rene Paredes had a field goal and a single for the Stamps, who won their 400th home game in franchise history.
Quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw touchdown passes to Dillon Mitchell and Jalin Marshall for the Elks (3-9), who have lost two straight games and five of their past six.
“It’s just another right-there moment,” said Cornelius, who completed 22 of 33 passes for 257 yards. “It felt like we were hanging with them the whole game.
“Then (in) the third quarter we stalled out, had a lot of two-and-outs and couldn’t stay on the field long enough, left our defence out there and that’s when the game really seemed to shift into their momentum a little bit.”
Sergio Castillo kicked a field goal for Edmonton, while Jon Ryan booted a single.
On Edmonton’s first drive, Cornelius fumbled a snap at midfield and Stamps defensive lineman Derek Wiggan alertly recovered the ball to give Calgary good field position.
Four plays later, Carey ran for a three-yard touchdown to cap off a quick 51-yard drive.
The Elks responded late in the first quarter when Cornelius tossed a 48-yard touchdown strike to Mitchell to cap off a six-play, 90-yard drive.
Neither team could get anything going offensively in the second quarter as Ryan accounted for the only point with a 51-yard single to give the Elks an 8-7 lead heading into the halftime break.
Both teams had chances to score points off turnovers but neither could capitalize.
Early in the second quarter, Shawn Lemon stripped the ball out of the hands of Cornelius before Cameron Judge knocked it out of bounds to give the Stamps great field position at Edmonton’s 43-yard line. Three plays later, Maier was sacked by Jake Ceresna and the Stamps were forced to punt.
On Calgary’s next possession, Mark McLaurin picked off an errant pass by Maier, but all the Elks could muster on their drive was the single by Ryan.
Maier tossed an eight-yard TD pass to Begelton at 6:29 of the third quarter to give Calgary the lead. After Malik Henry caught a pass from Maier in the end zone for a two-point convert, the Stamps went up 15-8.
After Edmonton’s third straight two-and-out to start the second half, the Elks’ woes continued when Romeo McKnight blocked Ryan’s punt and Isaac Adeyemi-Bergland picked up the loose ball at the 12-yard line.
Two plays later, Begelton made a diving catch in the back corner of the end zone to haul in a 12-yard TD pass from Maier.
“Ah man, the excitement, the rush that just went through my body, all glory to God on that one,” said Begelton in regards to his highlight-reel play. “I just felt really blessed on that one.”
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball hit returner Peyton Logan in the face mask and bounced right to Edmonton’s Jeremie Dominique, who was brought down on Calgary’s 35-yard line.
Five plays later, the Elks had to settle for a 15-yard field goal by Castillo.
After Paredes kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Calgary a 25-11 lead, Cornelius led the Elks on a 10-play, 70-yard drive that he finished by throwing a five-yard TD pass to Marshall in the back of the end zone.
Paredes then missed a 40-yard field goal wide to the left, but the ball went through the end zone for a 53-yard single for the final point of the game.
“It’s what Labour Day is, you play someone and then you turn around and play them five days later,” said Elks coach Chris Jones, whose team will host the Stamps in a rematch at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Saturday. “It’s a good thing to get this taste out of our mouth.
"We're going to take good care of our players this week. I don’t think we’ve got anybody nicked up, thank goodness.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 5, 2022.
Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press