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Stampeders earn badly needed win, hand Argonauts first loss of season – GooPdf News

Stampeders earn badly needed win, hand Argonauts first loss of season – GooPdf News

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They were efficient. They were opportunistic. They avoided the catastrophic mistakes that have felt like they were defining their season, so far.

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Basically, the Calgary Stampeders (3-5) did exactly what they needed to do against the previously undefeated Toronto Argonauts (6-1) on Friday night at McMahon Stadium.

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And when the Stamps do those things, it turns out they’re a decent-enough football team. Good enough to knock off the reigning Grey Cup champions and current best team in the CFL.

In the end, the Stamps finished their Friday celebrating a 20-7 victory over the Argos that breathes a little life into what has been a difficult season so far.

“We were feeling it, I definitely felt like the heat was there,” Stamps GM/head coach Dave Dickenson said about the mood going into Friday’s game. “As a team we felt like we were better than our record, but we needed to show up and we saw a 6-0 team, a Grey Cup champion coming in. They accepted the challenge and rose up to the challenge.

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“I do feel like we can beat any team in this league but we could probably lose to any team in this league, so we have to find a bit of consistent play and find our identity. These guys did a nice job tonight.”

Micah Awe and Cameron Dukes
Calgary Stampeders linebacker Micah Awe tackles Toronto Argonauts quarterback Cameron Dukes at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

Now, haters will say the Stamps beat an Argos team that was without quarterback Chad Kelly for most of the game. That’s true, Kelly left the game in the second quarter and was replaced by Cameron Dukes. Neither of them were especially great, though, and they finished having completed a combined 12-of-21 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown, a 76-yard connection from Kelly to Cam Phillips in the first quarter.

But other than that, the Stampeders defence dominated. The defensive line, in particular, was all over the Argos, and the rest of the group did its job, too, with Jonathan Moxey coming down with a massive end-zone interception.

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But football is about three phases and getting all three of those phases playing well at the same time.

For the first time all season, it felt like that might actually be happening.

On offence, running back Dedrick Mills was electric. He was the star of the show all night, and it wasn’t particularly close.

Mills ran the ball an astonishing 27 times for 137 yards while also catching four passes for 18 yards. He played like a superstar and carried the Stamps once they had taken the lead.

They couldn’t have asked for more.

“We needed this win very bad,” Mills said. “We emphasized all week that we needed to be more physical and tougher than the other team, and that’s what we did. We showed them exactly who we are and showed them Stampeders football.”

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Jake Maier and Dewayne Hendrix
Calgary Stampeders quarterback Jake Maier is tackled by Toronto Argonauts defensive lineman Dewayne Hendrix at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

And quarterback Jake Maier did a nice job, too. He wasn’t electrifying, necessarily, but he was remarkably efficient, completing 22-of-24 passes for 149 yards.

Special teams got in on the action, too, with Michael Griffin recovering a fumbled punt in the end zone late in the second quarter that opened up a 10-point halftime lead for the Stamps.

From there, they cruised, and in the end it added up to a win.

An unexpected win, maybe, considering that the Stamps had dropped games to the Ottawa Redblacks and Montreal Alouettes.

With two games against the Argos and matchups with the Western powerhouse B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers this month, things weren’t looking good for a Stampeders team that didn’t look like it could catch a break.

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It’s still a tough month, but Friday’s win changes the complexion a little bit.

If they can beat the Argos, they can beat anybody.

“We needed it bad,” Maier said. “We executed a game plan, damn near to perfection. We knew what we had to do and how we needed to take care of the football and control the football and really the name of the game tonight was just getting first downs. Eventually, you get enough first downs and you get a chance to kick field goals or score touchdowns and then, obviously, we got a huge break scoring a touchdown before the half. First night all year that offensively we didn’t turn the ball over and lo and behold we gave ourselves a great chance to win.”

Tommy Stevens
Calgary Stampeders quarterback Tommy Stevens runs in for a touchdown against the Toronto Argonauts at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

QUICK HITS

Official attendance at McMahon Stadium on Friday night was 19,234 … Cody Grace was leading the CFL with 10 punts inside the 10-yard-line heading into this weekend’s set of games. He added a few more on Friday night. The guy remains a marvel and it remains had to imagine a world where he doesn’t get an NFL look at some point … Jonathan Moxey getting a defensive pass-interference penalty on one drive and then an interception in the end zone on the next tells you everything you need to go about him as a player. When he makes a mistake, he forces himself to be better … There was a scary moment in the third quarter when Stamps linebacker Cam Judge collided headfirst with defensive lineman Mike Rose. Judge stayed down and got a good, long look from the medical staff, but was ultimately able to jog off the field without help. He returned to the game about 15 minutes later … Michael Griffin came down with the recovery after the Argos fumbled a Grace punt late in the first half, but Tyson Middlemost was right there, too. He tripped over his own feet in the end, and will surely be kicking himself about that … Being a ref is a hard job, so we try not to criticize them here. But I have absolutely no idea what they saw when they threw a flag for facemasking on Stamps defensive back Titus Wall. There was nothing there … We’ve already talked about how great Mills was, but it’s going to be fascinating to see how the Stampeders manage his workload with Ka’Deem Carey seemingly ready to return — most thought he’d be back for this game. The Stamps will find a way to have both in the lineup, we know that much … The Stamps did have to adjust on the fly right before game time. Receiver Tre Odoms-Dukes had been listed as a game-time decision and the team ultimately determined he wasn’t ready to play. In his place, Floyd Allen was slotted into the lineup. Tommylee Lewis officially became a starter at slotback … The Stampeders have now beat the Argos in 15 of their last 16 games at McMahon Stadium.

daustin@postmedia.com 

www.twitter.com/DannyAustin_9 

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