Stamps honour slain teammate with victory over Ticats

DaVaris Daniels made sure he shared his big day with Mylan Hicks’s family.

The rookie receiver had two TD catches as Calgary beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 36-17 to extend their unbeaten streak to a CFL-record 13 games Saturday.

The Stampeders (12-1-1) earned their 11th straight win playing for the first time since Hicks, a 23-year-old defensive back on the club’s practice roster, died early Sunday morning in a shooting outside a Calgary nightclub.

After hauling in Bo Levi Mitchell’s 59-yard scoring strike in the first half for his second TD of the half, Daniels earmarked the ball for Hicks’s mother, Rene Hill, who spoke to the Stampeders last week about her son.

“I just wanted to go out there and play for my brother, play for his family and give them a gift,” the former Notre Dame star said. “I don’t know what I can give them but I can give them that.

“It’s just special for me. I’m just happy that I was able to do it for him.”

There was a moment of silence prior to kickoff in Hicks’s memory. Safety Jamal Wall wore Hicks’s No. 31 and will for the remainder of season while the Stampeders donned a No. 31 sticker on the back of their helmets.

“It was a tough week preparing, I felt drained all week and I know everybody did,” said Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. “I think it was good to get out here because we knew he was with us, he was out there watching us and helping us out.”

The Stampeders wasted no time taking control. They opened the game with a six-play, 84-yard scoring march that Mitchell capped with a 16-yard scoring strike to Daniels at 3:39 before finding Kamar Jorden on the two-point convert. That helped stake Calgary to a 22-9 half-time lead.

Mitchell was 21-of-30 passing for 299 yards with the two TDs and two interceptions. He improved to a stellar 40-7-1 as a CFL starter.

“That first drive, heading all the way down there you couldn’t help but kind of look up and think the guy was looking over you,” Mitchell said.

Daniels had five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He capped the opening drive with a nice toe-tap catch, something he said Hicks helped him master in practice.

“That was all him,” Daniels said. “He used to tell me, ‘Double D, I’m not out there today so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ball out.’

“I’m going to carry that with me the rest of my life. Without him working me in practice maybe I don’t make that toe-tap. It’s definitely something I gained from him and I’m happy I had the chance to be his teammate.”

Calgary hasn’t lost since a season-opening 20-18 decision in B.C. on June 25. The Stampeders also hold the CFL record for most consecutive wins, 22, registered over the 1948-49 seasons.

Calgary’s tie was a 26-26 decision in Ottawa on July 8. Rookie head coach Dave Dickenson earned his 12th win, one short of the league single-season record held jointly by Adam Rita (1991 with Toronto), Stampeders president John Hufnagel (2008) and Mike Benevides (2012 with B.C.).

But Dickenson was more appreciative of Hamilton playing both the American and Canadian anthems prior to the kickoff.

“That was really (a nice touch),” said Dickenson, a Montana native. “I’m an American guy too and I love Canada and it really hit home with me.

“Americans that come up here, we buy into and we love Canada, this game and the opportunities it presents to us. For them to show that back meant a lot for me and I’m sure it meant a lot for Mylan.”

Hamilton (6-8) dropped its 10th straight game and 14th in 15 contests against Calgary before a Tim Hortons Field gathering of 23,741. The Ticats suffered their second consecutive loss, this one with head coach Kent Austin watching from the spotter’s booth.

Last week the CFL fined Austin $10,000 and banned him from the sidelines for this game after contacting an official in last weekend’s 20-18 road loss to Saskatchewan. Defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinuaer handled Hamilton’s sideline but Austin was allowed to be with his team before the game, at halftime and afterwards while being permitted to wear a headset to speak with his coaches and key offensive and defensive players.

Hamilton played a man short after Canadian defensive lineman Michael Atkinson was injured in the pre-game warmup. And quarterback Zach Collaros (upper body) missed the second half after taking a hard Charleston Hughes hit late in the second quarter.

Collaros finished 16-of-22 passing for 120 yards and an interception. Jeremiah Masoli was 16-of-28 for 151 yards in the second half.

Jerome Messam’s one-yard TD run at 6:27 of the third earned Calgary a commanding 29-9 advantage to cap an impressive 10-play, 87-yard drive.

Masoli’s four-yard run and two-point conversion toss to Andy Fantuz pulled Hamilton to within 29-17 with 3:08 remaining but Simon Charbonneau returned Fantuz’s kickoff 50 yards for the TD just eight seconds later.

Rene Paredes hit two field goals and three converts for Calgary. The other points came on a safety.

Hamilton’s Brett Maher kicked three field goals, including a club-record 58-yard boot. Fantuz finished with a career-high 15 catches for 130 yards.

“We were just working hard and scratching and clawing for everything we could get,” Fantuz said. “They’re a good team and they play sound and they don’t give up the big plays.

“So I was able to find some room underneath and have some connections with the quarterbacks but it wasn’t enough. We just got behind early. We needed to have a few more big plays and finish a couple of those drives in the endzone.”

• CP