October 15, 2016 - 8:51 PM
CALGARY - An offensive showcase it wasn't, but the Calgary Stampeders stretched their unbeaten streak to 15 straight games with a 22-8 win over the visiting Montreal Alouettes on Saturday.
The Stampeders (14-1-1) were already assured first in the West Division and the division final at McMahon Stadium on Nov. 20. They'd scored a touchdown on their first drive in four straight games prior to Saturday.
But Calgary's lack of focus and execution with the ball in the first half, combined with the sputtering offence of the Montreal Alouettes (4-11), made for a sluggish game.
It was just the fourth time this season that Calgary scored less than 30 points. The Stamps and Als were coming off a short week or preparation having both played Thanksgiving Monday.
"Sloppy," acknowledged Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson. "I think both offences of both teams . . . neither group look sharp, didn't look organized as far as offences. The defences stole the show."
But 15 straight games without a loss — the longest in a single season — tied for second all-time in the CFL behind the Stampeders of 1948-49 (22 games). The Edmonton Eskimos carried a 14-0-1 streak in 1954-55.
Dickenson established a record for most wins by a first-year coach with 14. It was his successful coaches' challenge late that resumed Calgary's drive for their lone touchdown of the first half.
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was 26 for 37 in passing for 256 yards. He threw a league-leading 30th touchdown pass to Anthony Parker and connected with Jerome Messam on a two-point convert throw.
"We won and I know we should be smiling and everything like that," Mitchell said. "We're a very hungry football team and we're never satisfied with a performance like that."
Backup QB Andrew Buckley scored on a one-yard dash into the end zone. Rob Maver contributed a pair of punt singles. Rene Paredes added a field goal in front of an announced 25,351 at McMahon.
Mitchell moved into the league lead in passing yards at 5,127 ahead of Edmonton's Mike Reilly (5,054), whose Esks were on a bye week.
Paredes was 1 for 3 in field goal attempts as he missed from 43 and 33 yards, but was good from 25.
Calgary's protection of their quarterback was uncharacteristically soft with four sacks allowed. Montreal was more porous with seven.
Alouettes quarterback Rakeem Cato was 13 for 29 in passing for 124 yards. Brandon Rutley scored Montreal's lone touchdown with 16 seconds left in the game on a two-yard run.
"I feel disgusted, terrible, bad, every bad word in the vocabulary," Cato said.
Their final three games of the regular season meaningless to their position in the standings, the challenge for the Stampeders is to keep starters healthy for the post-season.
But offensive lineman Shane Bergman sustained what Dickenson thought was an ankle injury. Defensive linebacker Deron Mayo left the field on a cart after suffering an apparent knee injury late in the first quarter.
"I went out there. I saw the look on his face," Dickenson said of Mayo. "We're still going to play our guys. I'm a believer in that. I'm hoping Deron is healthy, but it certainly didn't look good."
Saturday's losses by both the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal meant idle Edmonton (8-7) was assured at least a playoff berth in a cross-over to the East Division.
But neither the Alouettes nor the Argos (5-11) were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in the East. Montreal fell to 1-2 since Jacques Chapdelaine took over as head coach for Jim Popp on Sept. 19.
"We're a professional football team and we've got to be better than this," Alouettes slotback Nik Lewis said.
Pre-game tributes were paid to both Mylan Hicks and former provincial premier Jim Prentice.
Calgary played two road games after the 23-year-old Hicks was shot and killed outside a Calgary nightclub Sept. 24, so Saturday was the team's first opportunity to memorialize the defensive back at home.
Prentice, Alberta's premier from 2014 to 2015, died in an airplane crash in B.C. on Friday at the age of 60.
The Stampeders host Toronto on Friday with a rematch in Montreal to follow Oct. 30. Calgary ends the regular season on a bye week.
The Als continue on the road against the Saskatchewan Roughriders next Saturday before facing the Stamps at home and closing out against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016