June 16th, 2024

Calgary Stampeders down Hamilton Tiger-Cats 32-24 in season-opener for both clubs


By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press on June 7, 2024.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive lineman Coulter Woodmansey (64) reaches for Calgary Stampeders defensive back Demerio Houston (6) after an interception during first half CFL football action in Calgary, Friday, June 7, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – The Calgary Stampeders opened their 2024 CFL season with a 32-24 win Friday over the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Veteran Stampeders’ kicker Rene Paredes scored 20 points with his foot. The 39-year-old was a perfect 6-for-6 in field-goal attempts from 52, 43, 42, 37, 36, and 25 yards, plus two converts in front of an announced crowd of 19,741 at McMahon Stadium

Clark Barnes and rookie Cam Echols each had a touchdown catch for Calgary. Quarterback Jake Maier competed 21 of 26 passes for 252 yards and a pair of touchdown throws.

Tiger-Cats starter Bo Levi Mitchell was 27-for-38 in passing for 300 yards, a touchdown throw and one interception in his first game at McMahon since the Stampeders traded his rights to Hamilton in November 2022.

The two-time winner of the league’s most outstanding player award was pulled on the final drive of the first half for concussion protocol, but returned to finish the game.

Ticats’ kicker Marc Liegghio was good from 10, 35 and 42 yards, but missed from 47. Ante Litre scored a rushing touchdown and Kiondre Smith had a touchdown catch for Hamilton.

James Butler rushed for 119 yards in Scott Milanovich’s first regular-season game as Hamilton’s head coach.

Maier threw to an all-alone Barnes in Hamilton’s end zone for a 29-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The visitors countered with Liegghio’s 42-yard field goal to trail by 12 points. Paredes restored his team’s cushion with a 36-yarder with just over two minutes remaining.

Mitchell’s lone touchdown throw of the game – 19 yards to Smith – pulled the Tiger-Cats within eight points with 71 seconds left in the game. Hamilton had the ball on the final drive, but deep in their own zone and couldn’t generate another score.

Litre scored Hamilton’s first touchdown of the game on a one-yard plunge to start the fourth quarter.

Misfortune struck the Ticats midway through the third when Shemar Bridges dropped a catchable ball on the Stampeders’ door step, Liegghio was wide right on a subsequent 47-yard attempt and Calgary’s Erik Brooks ran the missed kick back 84 yards to Hamilton’ 32-yard-line.

Calgary didn’t convert the turnover into a touchdown, however, and led 22-7 on Paredes’ 37-yarder.

The Stampeders scored points on each of their first five drives. Maier took a knee on the sixth at halftime with his team up 19-7.

After taking a hit from Calgary’s Mike Rose on an 18-yard run, Mitchell was pulled for concussion protocol during Hamilton’s final drive of the first half.

With backup Taylor Powell in, Hamilton’s second too-many-players penalty of the half had the Tiger-Cats opting for Liegghio’s 35-yard field goal.

Calgary parlayed Demerio Houston’s first interception as a Stampeder into Paredes’ fourth field goal of the first half and a 19-4 lead.

Houston, who led the CFL in picks with seven for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2023, grabbed Mitchell’s intended throw to Bridges and ran the ball to Hamilton’s 24-yard line.

Maier and Echols combined on Calgary’s first touchdown of the season. Echols in the end zone leaped to haul in Maier’s seven-yard throw and Calgary led 16-4 on Paredes’ convert.

The visitors trailed 9-4 after their punter Nik Constantinou’s 47-yard single.

Paredes was good from 25 yards midway through the second quarter following a 23-yard carry by Dedrick Mills that pushed Calgary into scoring range.

Ticats receiver Tim White couldn’t corral a high throw from Mitchell at the back of the end zone, so Hamilton’s first points of the game was a 10-yard field goal by Liegghio to start the second quarter.

The Stampeders’ second drive of the game started from their own goal line because of an illegal blocking penalty on the return, but Maier marshalled the offence to midfield. Paredes’ 52-yard field goal was a yard shy of his career high

Ticats safety Stavros Katsantonis knocking down a Maier pass had Calgary settling for a 42-yard field goal on the hosts’ opening drive. Hamilton took a too-many-players penalty on the opening snap.

Calgary (6-12) and Hamilton (8-10) finished third in their respective divisions and lost out in the divisional semifinals in 2023.

STAMPEDERS RECORD

With their 700th win in franchise history, the Stampeders lead all CFL clubs. Calgary was tied with Edmonton at 699 using the creation of the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union in 1907 and the Western Interprovincial Football Union in 1936 as the CFL-observed starting points.

SEASON OPENERS

Calgary improved to 39-35-4 and 5-0 against Hamilton all-time in season-openers.

UP NEXT

The Stampeders are on the road June 15 against the B.C. Lions. The Tiger-Cats head home to host the Saskatchewan Roughriders on June 16.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2024.

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