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Stampeders wide receiver Lemar Durant pushes off tLirim Hajrullahu during first half CFL action in Toronto on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Stampeders wide receiver Lemar Durant pushes off tLirim Hajrullahu during first half CFL action in Toronto on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Football

Streaking Stampeders defeat Argos 48-20 Add to ...

Bo Levi Mitchell threw three TD strikes as the Calgary Stampeders clinched first in the West Division with a lopsided 48-20 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Monday afternoon.

Mitchell increased his league-leading total to 29 touchdown passes as Calgary (13-1-1) earned a 12th straight win and ran its CFL-record unbeaten streak to 14 games. Mitchell also improved to 41-7-1 as a starter and is 5-0 versus Toronto.

Mitchell was 18-of-27 passing for 281 yards before giving way to Drew Tate early in the fourth. Mitchell became just the second CFL quarterback to record 12 straight wins after Ken Ploen (1961, Winnipeg).

But the 14-game unbeaten streak broke the league mark Mitchell shared with former Edmonton great Warren Moon.

Calgary also beat Toronto (5-10) for the fifth straight time and sixth in seven games before a subdued BMO Field gathering of 14,224 on a brilliant fall afternoon. With the win, combined with Edmonton’s 40-20 decision in Montreal earlier Sunday, West teams have won 12 straight over East squads.

With Toronto and Montreal losing, B.C. (9-5) and Winnipeg (9-6) both clinched playoff berths. Edmonton (8-7) is fourth in the West but tightened its grip on a potential crossover spot while eliminating Saskatchewan (4-10) from post-season contention.

Calgary’s Dave Dickenson tied the CFL record for most wins by a rookie head coach of 13 shared by Adam Rita (1991, Toronto), John Hufnagel (2008, Calgary), and Mike Benevides (2012, B.C.).

Toronto suffered its eighth loss in nine games and dropped to 2-6 at BMO Field. The Argos are still in playoff contention, but just barely with another meeting with the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium looming.

And there’s no rest for the wicked as Toronto hosts Saskatchewan on Saturday.

Kenny Shaw gave Toronto fans something to cheer about with an 11-yard TD catch at 10:39 of the third that cut Calgary’s lead to 38-13. It was set up by a 41-yard fumble return by Shawn Lemon and Jermaine Gabriel.

Justin Hickman’s block of Rob Maver’s punt early in the fourth set up Drew Willy’s 10-yard TD strike to Diontae Spencer, making it 45-20 for Calgary, which hasn’t lost since a 20-18 decision to B.C. on June 25.

Calgary also holds the CFL record for most consecutive wins at 22 set in 1948-49.

Jerome Messam, Kamar Jorden, Andre Buckley, DeVaris Daniels and Rob Cote had Calgary’s touchdowns while Messam and Daniels added two-point converts. Rene Paredes booted four field goals and two converts.

Messam ran for 133 yards on 17 carries, giving him a CFL-high 1,002 yards this season. Daniels had five catches for 126 yards while Jorden recorded eight receptions for 117 yards.

Lirim Hajrullahu kicked two field goals and two converts for Toronto.

Paredes’ 28-yard field goal on the final play staked Calgary to a commanding 35-6 half-time lead. Things got testy with 2:23 left in the half when an end-zone melee resulted in five penalties and the ejections of Toronto defensive back Devin Smith and Stampeders receiver Marquay McDaniel.

Toronto defensive back Josh Mitchell, who punched two Calgary players during the incident, received two unnecessary roughness penalties but amazingly remained in the game.

Calgary took control immediately, with Messam capping a smart 73-yard, eight-play opening drive with a one-yard TD run and two-point convert just 3:41 in.

After Paredes’ 35-yard boot, Jorden made a brilliant catch of Mitchell’s 41-yard TD strike to end the quarter before Mitchell hit Daniels on the two-point convert.

Toronto countered with two Hajrullahu field goals in the second to cut Calgary’s lead to 19-6 before Mitchell found Daniels on a 61-yard TD pass at 6:25. Buckley scored on a one-yard TD run after the disqualifications before Paredes rounded out the first-half scoring.

Toronto’s plight worsened when Calgary recovered Jorden’s block of Hajrullahu’s punt at the Argos’ 25-yard line. That set up Paredes’ 36-yard field goal at 3:24 of the third that put the Stampeders ahead 38-6.

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