Stampeders stun Bombers 13-12 with late 4th-quarter comeback in final playoff tune-up

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CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders saved their best for the fourth quarter as they pulled off a 13-12 come-from-behind win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.

Rene Paredes kicked a 27-yard field goal, his second of the game, as time expired to give the Stampeders (8-6) their third straight win to end the regular season.

“I’ll take the win,” said Calgary coach Dave Dickenson, who wasn’t “super happy” with how his team played for the first three-and-a-half quarters of the game. “To me it’s about the fourth quarter.

“Listen, did we play well? Probably not -- not well enough to win -- but in the CFL if you keep believing, you keep working, you keep giving yourselves a chance and make plays in the fourth quarter, sometimes you can pull those games out.”

Quarterback Jack Maier threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Luther Hakunavanhu at 13:17 of the fourth quarter to set up the heroics by Paredes, who also kicked a 32-yard field goal with 4:53 to play to start the rally.

“For whatever reason, towards the end of the game we started executing the plan,” said Maier, who completed 10-of-20 passes for 177 yards to go with his one TD pass and one interception. “That’s just football. It comes down to a few plays a game that can determine the outcome.

“That’s why you never give up in football. You just keep playing. We feel pretty good about walking out of our last regular season game here with a W.”

Bo Levi Mitchell started at quarterback for the Stamps and went 7 for 11 for just 39 yards before being relieved by Maier in the second half.

Sergio Castillo kicked four field goals to give the Blue Bombers (11-3) a 12-0 lead at 8:24 of the fourth quarter before the Stamps rallied for the win.

“Our record doesn't matter now,” said Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea, whose team had clinched top spot in the West Division before losing their final two games of the regular season. “Nothing matters right now. We'll watch the film, make corrections we need to make.

“There are reasons why we win or lose, like I always say. And after we get done those corrections, it doesn’t matter what our record is. We’ve got one game to play and we’ve got two weeks to prepare for it. None of that stuff matters now.”

Zach Collaros started the game at quarterback for the Bombers and completed 7-of-10 passes for 73 yards in the first half before rookie Dru Brown came into the game to replace him. Brown went 7 for 14 for 49 yards, while also carrying the ball seven times for 44 yards.

“Every time you play a game you want to win the game,” said Collaros following the loss. “It’s not a good feeling, but you’ve got to move on from it, learn from it and get ready for our next opponent here.

“We have to learn from this, become better as teammates – all those things throughout this bye week.”

The Stamps will now head to Regina for the West semifinal on Nov. 28 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-5). The victor will then travel to Winnipeg to play the Bombers a week later for the right to play in the Grey Cup on Dec. 12 in Hamilton.

After a slow start for both teams, Winnipeg had a great chance to open the scoring mid-way through the first quarter when Collaros drove the Bombers down to Calgary’s three-yard line.

Making his CFL debut for the Bombers, Brown came into the game and executed a one-yard quarterback sneak to perfection to give Winnipeg a first down with just two yards to go to get into the end zone.

On the next play, Brown dropped back and fumbled the ball after being pressured by Calgary’s Jameer Thurman. Fellow Stamps linebacker Javien Elliott picked up the ball and ran it back 23 yards, but Raheem Wilson was penalized on the play for an illegal block and Calgary had to settle for starting their drive on their own 36-yard line.

Calgary’s woes continued throughout the first half as the Stamps weren’t able to put any points on the board.

Meanwhile, the Bombers settled for a 15-yard field goal by Castillo at 10:32 of the second quarter.

The visitors had a chance to increase their lead to 6-0 as time ran out in the first half, but Castillo missed his 52-yard field goal attempt wide to the right.

The start of the second half was much of the same as both teams weren’t able to get much of anything going offensively.

In at quarterback to replace Mitchell, Maier completed a 17-yard pass to Markeith Ambles for the first first down of the second half for either team at the mid-way point of the third quarter.

HIs next pass was picked off by Winnipeg’s Mike Jones to give the Bombers the ball at the Calgary 40-yard line. Three plays later, Castillo kicked a 45-yard field goal to put Winnipeg up 6-0 at 9:25 of the third quarter.

Castillo then booted a 46-yard field goal at 4:26 of the fourth quarter and added another one from 50 yards out at 8:24.

Paredes started Calgary’s comeback with a 32-yard field goal at 10:07 before Hakunavanhu hauled in a long pass from Maier and ran 26 more yards into the end zone to pull the Stamps within two points.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2021.

Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press

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