Calgary finishes pre-season 2-0 as another Canadian QB shines

Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson liked what he saw in his Canadian quarterback’s late-game poise.

Calgary native Andrew Buckley ran in one touchdown and passed for another in the fourth quarter as the Stampeders finished pre-season play with a perfect 2-0 record, defeating the Edmonton Eskimos 36-35 on Sunday after Edmonton failed a late two-point convert attempt.

“What I think he does that the other guys can’t do is to get out of the pocket and really have some speed,” Dickenson said. “He has young legs and he showed it. He is still maturing. He is still pretty raw, but I liked him. I thought the quarterback position played well for us tonight.”

The 23-year-old former University of Calgary Dinos QB was glad to have an impact.

“I’m happy we moved the ball in the end there and were able to score, to put the ball in the end zone and win the game, basically,” Buckley said. “I had a couple of mental errors here and there, but a win is a win.”

The Eskimos, the final team to play an exhibition game, are 0-1.

“Not the start (we wanted), but we had a lot of good things throughout the game. I’m a positive thinker,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “We battled to the end, took them right to 36-35. There was enough stuff throughout the game that you know you can make up that one point, but that’s why we play the game.”

Calgary took the lead four minutes in on a big play as Roy Finch took a punt return 81 yards up the middle. The Stamps then made it 14-0 on their next possession as a 36-yard reception by Kamar Jorden set up a one-yard TD plunge by Mitchell Gale.

The Stamps added a punt single before Edmonton kicker Sean Whyte nailed field goals from 51 and 28 yards out. An interception by Edmonton’s Kent London then led to a three-yard TD run by Travon Van to make it 15-13 at the half.

The Eskimos surged into a 22-15 lead in the third quarter on another Whyte field goal and then a five-yard TD run by Kendial Lawrence that started off with a fumble recovery by Kwaku Boateng.

Calgary tied the game with just under a minute to play in the third on a 22-yard TD pass from Ricky Stanzi to Rory Kohlert, then regained the lead on a one-yard scoring plunge by Buckley with five minutes to play.

Edmonton came right back a minute later, however, as Zach Kline came in at QB and hit D’haquille “Duke” Williams on a 90-yard pass and run into the end zone.

Calgary looked to have put the game away with 1:18 to play on a 24-yard TD pass from Buckley to Richard Sindani, but Edmonton marched back to score with 13 seconds left on a three-yard run by Marion Grice, only to miss out on the two-point convert attempt.

The Eskimos will play their final pre-season game on Thursday in Winnipeg, while the Stampeders are off until they open up regular season play in Ottawa on June 23.

Notes: Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly wore No. 0 for the game instead of his traditional No. 13 to honour former Eskimo and CFL Hall of Famer Larry Highbaugh, who passed away in March? The Eskimos also honoured legendary coach/GM/president Hugh Campbell after he was inducted into the City of Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame. Campbell, who led the Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup championships from 1978-82, has now gone into 12 different halls of fame.

– CP