October 03, 2016 - 2:25 PM
It's a historic streak for Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders.
Mitchell threw two TD passes to lead Calgary past the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 36-17 on Saturday night at Tim Hortons Field. The win was the 11th straight for the Stampeders (12-1-1) and ran their unbeaten streak to a CFL single-season record 13 games.
And they did it while still mourning the death of rookie defensive back Mylan Hicks, a practice-roster player who died Sept. 24 in a shooting outside a Calgary nightclub.
Mitchell, who had separate black patches under his eyes sporting Hicks's No. 31 and initials Saturday, has been a key figure in Calgary's winning ways. The Texan is a stellar 40-7-1 as a CFL starter and a leading candidate for this year's outstanding player award.
But both he and the Stampeders took a different path to success in Hamilton.
Mitchell threw two interceptions in a game for the first time this season — he's only had eight in 513 pass attempts. His 293 yards passing marked the first time in seven contests and just the third time this season that Mitchell hadn't reached the 300-yard plateau.
However he found rookie DaVaris Daniels on scoring strikes of 16 and 59 yards as the former Notre Dame star finished with five catches for 123 yards along with a 25-yard run.
Calgary also secured the convincing win despite losing the turnover battle (3-2). The Stampeders entered last weekend's action having committed a league-low 14 turnovers.
However, Calgary's offensive line kept Mitchell clean. The unit has allowed a CFL-low 13 sacks this season but the Stampeders also ran for 109 yards on 17 carries (6.4-yard average) against a Hamilton defence that was allowing just over 69 yards rushing per game.
There's also the potent special-teams tandem of kicker Rene Paredes and punter Rob Maver.
Parades made both of his field-goal attempts in Hamilton and is 46-of-52 (88.5 per cent) this season. Maver averaged 45.8 yards on his five punts and sports a solid 47.1-yard mark overall.
And if Calgary can secure a road victory in Toronto on Monday, Dave Dickenson will tie the CFL's single-season record for most wins by a rookie head coach (13).
WINNING DEBUT: Jacques Chapdelaine was a winner in his CFL head-coaching debut but still faces a near-impossible job getting the Montreal Alouettes into the playoffs.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato threw four TD strikes Sunday to lead Montreal past Toronto 38-11 in Chapdelaine's first game as interim head coach replacing Jim Popp, who returned to his full-time duties as the club's GM. The Als (4-9) snapped a four-game losing streak and moved to within two points of the Argonauts (5-9) for third in the tight East Division.
But both Toronto and Montreal will need help to reach the postseason. Edmonton (7-7) is fourth in the West Division but ahead of the Argos and Als for the East's final playoff seed via the CFL crossover rule. It stipulates that if a fourth-place finisher in one division has more points than the third-place team in the other, then the fourth-place squad will assume the rival conference's third playoff seed.
Amazingly, Toronto had a 4-2 record following a 23-20 win over Ottawa on July 31 but has dropped lost seven-of-eight games since.
Montreal will have a chance Monday to make up ground when it hosts Edmonton and Toronto takes on Calgary (12-1-1). But the chances of either the Als or Argos finishing ahead of the Eskimos seem remote given they must both play Calgary twice down the stretch.
Montreal's five-touchdown, 38-point outburst was certainly out of the norm. The Alouettes came into Sunday's game second-last in scoring (20.8 points), passing (275.6 yards per game) and TDs (24) and last in net offence (320.8 yards per game) while having allowed the most sacks (39).
While Cato had four TD passes, he was 18-of-23 passing for just 210 yards. Montreal also surrendered six sacks, held the ball for 28 minutes 49 seconds — one second longer than its league-worst season average — and accumulated 270 net offensive yards.
But more importantly, Montreal had no turnovers while forcing five, ran for 139 yards (almost double its season average of 72.4 yards per game) on 20 attempts and took just six penalties for 81 yards.
BACK IN FOOTBALL: Jordan Wilson-Ross is back playing football.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders added the five-foot-nine, 220-pound running back to their practice roster Monday. Ross, 27, was a second-team OUA all-star in 2009 at the University of Ottawa but was most recently involved with Canada's national men's rugby program.
Ross, a native of Alliston, Ont., was eighth in CIS rushing with Ottawa in '09, accumulating 790 yards on 111 carries (7.1-yard average) with six touchdowns.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016