Stamps wind up on losing end of defensive battle against Eskimos

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders know that they missed out on a great chance to virtually guarantee finishing atop the CFL’s West Division standings.

With a victory at home on Saturday, the Stampeders would have won the season series against the Edmonton Eskimos while moving four points clear of their Alberta rivals with three games remaining for each team.

Instead, Calgary lost 15-11 to Edmonton in a defensive battle that saw both teams score only one touchdown each.

“At the end of the day, they made more plays than we did,” said Stamps defensive back Keon Raymond. “It’s hard. You think you win the game when you limit a team to 15 points. It was a defensive battle. We’ve just got to make more plays and they did.”

Both teams now have identical 11-4 records, but the Eskimos vault past the Stampeders into top spot in the West by virtue of winning the season series two games to one.

“I hate losing this one,” said Raymond. “We’re still tied for first. You hate having to have somebody else lose for you to get back to where you need to be. You want to hold your own. You want to control your destiny and we had an opportunity to do that and we didn’t come away with it.”

Raymond had a strong start to the game as he sacked Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly to force a two-and-out on Edmonton’s first possession.

Undeterred, Reilly completed 29-of-40 passes for 254 yards, with a touchdown pass to receiver Kenny Stafford and two interceptions.

“Mike did a good job of managing the game for them,” said Raymond, who also had four tackles. “Even if they weren’t getting points, he was moving the chains down to kind of keep field position. They had field position all night.”

Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell had a chance to put the Stamps ahead late in the fourth quarter, but his final pass of the game deflected off receiver Marquay McDaniel’s hands right to Edmonton safety Cauchy Muamba for an interception that sealed the victory for the Esks.

“It’s just a play we had drawn up (that) we liked against them,” said McDaniel. “I’ll take Quay against that guy all day. Obviously I left it a little bit high and Quay went up for it and tried to make a play.”

Mitchell completed 17-of-32 passes for 230 yards to go with a touchdown to Eric Rogers and two interceptions. After the game he lamented the fact that the Stamps had several missed opportunities against a tough Edmonton defence.

“We just didn’t do what we had to do,” he said. “Our defence, I thought, played great.”

The Stamps will finish the regular season with a road game against the Toronto Argonauts next Saturday, followed by a home game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Oct. 31, and their final road game of the season against the B.C. Lions on Nov. 7.

“We go back to the drawing board,” said Raymond. “We’ll come back … play harder and smarter against Toronto, a good team on the road.”

Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press