With the offence sputtering, the Calgary Stampeders patchworked together a 27-13 win over the B.C. Lions on the strength of defence and special teams Saturday.
The Stampeders (10-1-1) have won eight consecutive games this season and extended their regular-season win streak at home to 16 in a row dating back to 2015.
Calgary gained more separation atop the West Division, now five points ahead of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and seven up on the Edmonton Eskimos. The Lions dropped to 6-6.
In just the first half, the Stampeder defence sacked Lions starting quarterback Jonathan Jennings four times, intercepted him once and knocked down two passes.
Calgary returner Roy Finch compiled 230 yards on punts and kickoffs, including a 66-yard punt return that set up Reggie Begelton’s fourth-quarter touchdown to seal the win.
“I think right now you’re looking at a team that’s led by the defence and special teams,” Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson said. “That’s not a bad combination.”
Middle linebacker Alex Singleton recorded his third straight game of 10 or more tackles with 11 Saturday, plus a quarterback sack.
“He is the centrepiece of that defence,” Dickenson said. “He’s up there with the best middle linebackers in the league and he’s only in his second year.”
Rene Paredes kicked field goals from 27, 42, 17 and 37 yards with punter Rob Maver contributing a 66-yard single in front of an announced 28,176 at McMahon Stadium.
Lions kicker Ty Long was good from 26, 48, 46 and 35 yards and added a 68-yard single. But B.C. couldn’t solve a defence that harried Jennings all night.
“Those guys, they played one hell of a game on defence. We just got to expose teams when we have a chance to and that’s what we failed to do tonight,” Lions slotback Emmanuel Arceneaux said.
“Offensively, when we’re in a funk like that, it’s going to be hard to beat anybody.”
Stampeder running back Jerome Messam left the game early in the third quarter when B.C.’s Micah Awe’s helmet collided with the back of Messam’s head.
The CFL’s leading rusher left the field under his own power, but did not return after rushing for 40 yards.
“I’m going to get evaluated and hopefully bounce back for next week,” Messam said following the game. “I kind of bit a hole through my lip. It’s my lip that’s bothering me the most so that’s good.”
Missing receivers DaVaris Daniels, last season’s CFL rookie of the year, as well as Lamar Durant and Kamar Jorden put a dent in Calgary’s passing game Saturday.
Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 240 yards completing 16-of-31 passes including a pair of touchdown throws.
“It’s not pretty right now, but man, we’re winning football,” Mitchell said. “Guys are grinding.”
“Offensively, I’m not upset with what we’re doing. We are putting up points. We’re getting the ball down there. I’d love to see us finish more touchdowns.”
Jennings was briefly sidelined late in the second quarter when he was brought down hard by Singleton, but returned and finished the game 15 for 29 in passing for 167 yards.
Calgary got a big play from an unexpected source in the fourth quarter.
With the Stampeders leading 17-10, Maver kept the ball instead of punting and ran 24 yards to B.C.’s 33-yard line. Calgary turned the trick play into a field goal and a 10-point cushion.
“If any punter tells you that they’re fully satisfied just punting the football, even though they love their job, they’re lying,” Maver said. “They obviously want to do more things.
“Any time I get the chance to do something other than just catch it and kick it, I’m going to enjoy it.”
Note: Singleton became the first player in CFL history to record 10-plus tackles in three straight games.