Reggie Begelton and the Calgary Stampeders finally have a chance to settle the score.
The Stampeders (7-4) play host to Hamilton (9-2) on Saturday night at McMahon Stadium. It will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams after the East Division-leading Tiger-Cats captured a 30-23 home victory over Calgary on July 13.
“It’s going to be a very fun game,” Begelton said earlier this week. “We want payback from them ... .”
Begelton helped put Calgary ahead 14-0 in that contest, registering the game’s first touchdown on a six-yard run in the second quarter. Not long after, Ka’Deem Carey recovered a blocked punt to give the defending Grey Cup champions their double-digit advantage.
But Hamilton countered quickly with Will Likely’s 110-yard kickoff-return TD and Brandon Banks’s two-point convert. Then, after Calgary recorded a safety for the 16-8 advantage, Banks returned a missed field goal 115 yards for the touchdown, with Jeremiah Masoli hitting Nikola Kalinic for the two-point convert to tie the game at 16 heading into halftime.
After Carey tied the score 23-23 with a three-yard TD run at 7 minutes 54 seconds in the fourth, Masoli found Banks on a 20-yard touchdown pass to give Hamilton its winning margin.
However, much has changed for both teams since that matchup.
Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the reigning CFL and Grey Cup MVP, didn’t play because of a pectoral muscle injury. Nick Arbuckle finished 24-of-40 for 368 yards in his second start, while Begelton had eight catches for 119 yards.
But Mitchell is back, having guided Calgary to consecutive wins over Edmonton. And although he had more interceptions (three) than TDs (two) in the Stampeders’ 25-9 road victory over the Eskimos last week, Mitchell won his 72nd career game to become the winningest quarterback in franchise history.
Begelton had seven catches for 88 yards and a TD to move past Banks (65 catches, 862 yards, five TDs) and become the CFL’s leading receiver with 66 receptions for 930 yards and seven touchdowns. Banks had the lead last week, but relinquished it with Hamilton on the bye and currently stands third over all.
“It feels pretty good, but to me complacency isn’t an option,” Begelton said. “So I’ve got to keep going.”
Hamilton will come to McMahon Stadium with a different pivot under centre. Dane Evans assumed the starting job after Masoli suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Ticats’ 23-15 home win over Winnipeg on July 26.
Hamilton is 4-1 – and riding a four-game win streak – with Evans as its starter. Over that span, the 25-year-old former Tulsa star is 114-of-168 passing (67.9 per cent) for 1,392 yards with more interceptions (seven) than TDs (six).
But in his most recent start, Evans was 31-of-37 passing – completing 19 straight at one point – for 442 yards with two TDs and two interceptions in a 38-27 home win over Toronto on Sept. 2.
Bralon Addison was his favourite target with 11 catches for 167 yards and two TDs. Banks had nine receptions for 109 yards.
Ottawa Redblacks vs. BC Lions (Friday night)
At Vancouver, B.C. (1-10) has lost seven straight and is a dismal 0-4 at home. Ottawa (3-8) has lost four consecutive contests, but is 2-3 on the road. The Lions come off a 21-16 loss to Montreal, but starter Mike Reilly was sacked just once, a moral victory considering they’ve allowed a CFL-high 45 thus far. The Redblacks dropped a 46-17 decision last week to Toronto with former Lion Jonathon Jennings as the starter.
Montreal Alouettes vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday night)
At Regina, the Riders (7-4) return to Mosaic Stadium – where they’re 5-1 – after having their six-game win streak halted emphatically 35-10 by Winnipeg last weekend. The Bombers took control of the game in the second quarter, outscoring Saskatchewan 21-0 for a 28-3 halftime advantage. Montreal (6-4) has won three straight, doing just enough to earn the win over B.C. as quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. ran for two TDs and threw for another.
Last week: 4-0.
Over all: 35-15.