Harris throws four TD passes, leads Elks to 32-20 win over Stampeders

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CALGARY — Trevor Harris was well aware that he had never been on the winning end of a decision against the Calgary Stampeders.

After leading his Edmonton Elks to a 32-20 win over the Stampeders in front of 31,039 fans at McMahon Stadium on Monday, the veteran CFL quarterback can finally stop hearing about how he had gone 0-9-2 against Calgary in 11 previous regular-season games with the Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Redblacks and Edmonton.

He was also on the losing end of the 106th Grey Cup in Edmonton on Nov. 25, 2018 when his Redblacks lost 27-16 to the Stamps.

“There’s been people that have mentioned that to me,” said Harris, who threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers.

“I guess to get the proverbial monkey off your back feels good, but at the end of the day, CFL football is hard to win games no matter what and any time you’re playing Calgary it’s going to be a tough out. I’m just glad got the win today as a team.”

Ernest Edwards, Jalen Tolliver, James Wilder Jr., and Mike Jones hauled in TD passes from Harris as Edmonton (2-2) ended its eight-game losing streak (from 2012-19) in the annual Labour Day Classic between Alberta’s two CFL clubs.

Sean Whyte also had a field goal, while Hugh O’Neill kicked a single for the Elks, who hadn’t played since a 21-16 win over B.C. on Aug. 19.

The Elks were scheduled to play in Toronto on Aug. 26 but that game was postponed after the West Division club had COVID-19 issues. The game with Toronto has since been rescheduled for Nov. 16.

“Everything’s about us as a team,” said Harris, who completed 31-of-41 passes for 398 yards against the Stamps. “I don’t know if we made a statement, but I know what we’re capable of and I know we’re finally starting to scratch the surface.

“I think we’ve gotten better every week. We’ve faced a lot of adversity and obviously with everything that kind of went down with the Toronto game being postponed ... we’ve come out stronger and we came out better.”

Ka’Deem Carey had a rushing score for the Stampeders (1-4), while quarterback Jake Maier threw a TD pass to Markeith Ambles.

“We just (weren't) connecting on offence – dropping passes, (taking) penalties, not staying on the field,” said Kamar Jorden, who led all receivers with 123 yards as he caught 9-of-12 passes thrown his way. “Those are the little things we expect to get through. We definitely have to find a way to improve our offence, get some confidence and getting some swagger behind us.”

Rene Paredes kicked a pair of field goals for the Stamps, who will travel to Edmonton to face the Elks in the Labour Day rematch on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

“That was a tough one to have a lot of optimism from,” said Calgary coach Dave Dickenson. “We’re just trying to win a game. I think we can do that. I think we can get on that bus, head north and put ourselves in another position to win a game. It’s going to require a lot of digging deep, though – a little extra work and as coaches we’ve got to try to figure out what our guys are good at and we’ve got to start putting them in that position because right now what we’re doing and calling isn’t working.”

The Stamps opened the scoring when Paredes booted a 35-yard field goal at 3:45 of the first quarter.

The Elks took a 7-3 lead at 7:38 when Edwards hauled in a 45-yard TD pass from Harris to cap off an eight-play, 75-yard drive.

The visitors had a chance to build on their lead a short time later, but Whyte missed a 48-yard field goal wide to the left.

After being assessed a five-yard penalty for procedure to put them back on their own 20-yard line, the Elks proceeded to march down the field 80 yards in four plays. Harris capped off the impressive drive at 9:35 of the second quarter when he tossed a six-yard TD pass to Toliver to put Edmonton up 14-3.

The Stamps answered right back with a great nine-play, 86-yard scoring drive of their own ending with Carey running into the end zone for a 13-yard TD with five minutes left in the opening half.

On Edmonton’s next drive, Whyte missed his second straight field goal as his 35-yard kick hit the right upright and bounced back on the field.

Calgary appeared to jump into the lead with just 35 seconds left before the intermission when Derek Wiggan recovered a fumble and ran into the end zone, but the play was negated due to an offside call on Shawn Lemon.

Following an unsuccessful drive by the Elks to start the second half, Maier engineered an eight-play, 83-yard drive that he finished off by tossing a nine-yard TD pass to Ambles at 6:20 of the third.

Whyte kicked a 36-yard field goal at 10:15 to pull the Elks into a 17-17 tie heading into the final quarter.

Paredes then put the Stamps back on top by three points with a 36-yard field goal 51 seconds into the fourth.

Harris then went back to work as he guided the Elks on a pair of lengthy drives that both resulted in touchdowns.

After Wilder hauled in short pass and ran into the end zone for a 10-yard score at 8:05, Harris then connected with Jones for a 52-yard TD pass at 2:39.

“Those guys never flinched,” Edmonton coach Jaime Elizondo said of his players.

“They stuck together. The believe in who they are. This is the standard that we expect. This is what we’re supposed to be about and what we’re supposed to do. I couldn’t be more proud of this team – their resiliency, their character … their mental toughness and they showed it today on the field. I’m really proud of them.”

O’Neill rounded out the scoring with an 84-yard single on the ensuing kickoff.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 6, 2021.

Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press

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