It’s two points in the standings but it means much more than that to Kevin Glenn and the Calgary Stampeders.
Glenn threw two first-half TD passes before leaving for precautionary reasons as injury-plagued Calgary beat the Toronto Argonauts 35-14 on Friday night in a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup game. The Stampeders (6-2) won despite missing veteran slotback Nik Lewis (fractured fibula), receiver Maurice Price (ankle), offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas (concussion) and running back Jon Cornish (thigh contusion).
“It shows a lot about our character and how well we prepare, how we believe in each other,” Glenn said. “Your star running back and receiver go down and we still have faith and confidence in the guy who’s going to step up and play next.
“We all believe in each other, it’s really a good team atmosphere and I think that carries over on the field.”
Glenn, starting with incumbent Drew Tate (arm) out, suffered a head injury at 1:06 of the fourth quarter after being taken down by Toronto tackle Khalif Mitchell. Glenn left as per the CFL’s concussion protocol but said afterwards he was OK.
“I had a little headache but it’s gone and I feel fine,” he said. “I remembered the play and everything that happened so it was more so just a precaution.
“This stuff is serious so you have to be cautious when it happens.”
Third-stringer Bo Levi Mitchell took over and scored on an 11-yard run at 4:04 to put Calgary ahead 29-14, set up by Jonathan Hefney’s 36-yard return of Chad Owens’ fumble.
Glenn threw second-quarter TD passes to Marquay McDaniel and Tim Hawthorne to stake Calgary to a 21-14 half-time lead after Toronto (5-3) lost starter Ricky Ray. Ray suffered a shoulder injury at 8:41 of the first and was replaced by sophomore Zach Collaros after being hit by Charleston Hughes.
Ray will be evaluated Saturday.
“It’s tough to see your starting quarterback go down but you don’t have time to feel for Ricky,” Argos coach Scott Milanovich said. “That’s the job of the backup quarterback.
“It’s never easy to come off the bench with no reps, especially on a short week. Their guy [Mitchell] had to do the same thing.”
Ray completed his first five passes before a Rogers Centre gathering of 21,157, including a 19-yard TD strike to Jason Barnes at 5:10 to open the scoring. Ray, who guided Toronto past Calgary 35-22 in the 100th Grey Cup game last November at Rogers Centre, capped an eight-play, 65-yard march set up by Cleyon Laing’s recovery of McDaniel’s fumble following a 29-yard reception on the game’s first offensive play.
Ray returned to Toronto’s bench in the third and wasn’t wearing a shoulder harness. Ray said afterwards he didn’t think he suffered a shoulder separation and was held out for precautionary reasons.
Ray came in having completed 64-of-73 passes (87.7 per cent) for 851 yards and eight touchdowns over his three previous starts. He was the CFL’s offensive player of the week after finishing 30-of-35 passing for 413 yards and three TDs in a 36-33 home win over Edmonton on Sunday.
Collaros led Toronto past B.C. 38-12 on July 30 when Ray had a knee injury but couldn’t duplicate that feat Friday, finishing 16-of-26 passing for 221 yards and an interception, the Argos first this season.
“We felt we could’ve won regardless of losing Ricky,” said Barnes, who had five catches for 106 yards and a TD. “We have a specific package with Zach and he knows what to do.
“We just couldn’t extend any long drives and they outplayed us.”
Calgary head coach/general manager John Hufnagel had nothing but praise for his club.
“We held a very high-scoring offence to 14 points, that’s pretty good,” he said. “I know they’re missing their starting quarterback but so are we.
“I’m very proud of this football team just because of what they’ve had to contend with up to this point. They had full confidence if they played their game that they had a chance to win the game and that’s what they did.”
Glenn finished 14-of-20 passing for 228 yards and the two TDs. Jonathan Williams and Matt Walter combined for 138 yards rushing in place of Cornish, the 2012 CFL rushing leader who’s second this year with 749 yards.
Williams, a former practice roster player, had 82 yards on 18 carries while Walter added 56 yards on 10 carries.
“It was like, ‘Jon Cornish who?’ Glenn said with a chuckle. ”They both took advantage of opportunities.
“Jon being a guy who was on the practice roster and hadn’t suited up since preseason coming in here and doing the kind of things he was doing, everyone on the team had confidence in him. Now the rest of the CFL, the rest of Canada has seen what he can do.”
Calgary earned its fifth straight win over an East Division team and beat Toronto for the first time in six regular-season meetings. Kicker Rene Paredes booted three field goals but had his CFL record-streak end at 39 straight when he missed from 22 yards in the fourth for a single.
Rene also had three converts while the other points came on two safeties.
Barnes and Curtis Steele had Toronto’s touchdowns. Noel Prefontaine added the converts.
Notes: Toronto honoured members of the ‘83 Grey Cup-winning team at halftime. The victory in 1983 ended Toronto’s 31-year Grey Cup drought . . . . Toronto linebacker Marcus Ball was a late scratch. Linebacker Major Culbert was promoted from the practice roster to take Ball’s spot . . Hufnagel is the league’s longest tenured head coach, joining the Stampeders prior to the ‘08 season . . . Ray made his 169th career start while Glenn started his 145th career contest.