The Calgary Stampeders squandered an opportunity to put the B.C. Lions away early the last time the two teams met.
The Stamps (9-1-1) settled for three field goals and ultimately eked out a 21-17 win over the Lions (6-5) on Aug. 18 at B.C. Place Stadium.
“Even though we were ahead 9-0, we felt like we weren’t playing well and then they just roared back and took the lead,” said Calgary coach Dave Dickenson, whose team will host the Lions in a rematch at McMahon Stadium on Saturday. “It was a back-and-forth deal, so when you get opportunities, you can’t settle on field goals.
“When we get our opportunities, though, we need touchdowns.”
Looking for their eighth straight win and 16th in a row at home, the Stamps will face a tough test against the Lions, who beat the Montreal Alouettes 41-18 at home on Sept. 8.
“They’re back and they’ll be hungry,” Dickenson said. “They’ll be coming at us. We’ve got to be ready to go.”
Running back Jerome Messam, whose one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter helped lift Calgary to victory over B.C. last month, said he and his teammates can’t take the Lions lightly.
“We can’t let it be a trap game or anything,” he said. “They’ve been playing well of late. I know we beat them earlier in the season, but we can’t think of that. We’ve just got to continue with our focus and basically try to go out there and keep our winning streak going.”
With Lemar Durant and Kamar Jorden already out of the lineup, fellow receiver DaVaris Daniels went down with a knee injury during Calgary’s 25-22 road win over Edmonton Eskimos last Saturday.
“We’re stretched with our depth big time at the receiver position,” said Dickenson, who praised receivers Anthony Parker and Marken Michel for taking on bigger roles on offence. “It’s an opportunity for all of our guys to make plays and step up.
“Pleasant surprise with some other guys that Anthony’s been playing real well and Marken, but Reggie gets his shot. We’ll see what he can do.”
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said he believes that his receivers can get the job done against the Lions.
“I trust these guys, man,” Mitchell said. “They work hard for me. I have no reason not to trust them. I’ve just got to let those guys go out there and make plays for me.”
Meanwhile, the Lions will have to put their trust in quarterback Jonathon Jennings after Travis Lulay went down with a season-ending knee injury during B.C.’s win over Montreal.
Jennings finished the game against the Als and was 22 of 29 for 295 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’ve just got to come in and execute,” said Jennings. “The biggest thing is we’ve got to make sure that we continue to look at what we can do individually and just not try to do too much – allow our playmakers to make plays. I prep like I’m a starter even when I wasn’t.”
Lions coach and general manager Wally Buono said Jennings should be able to build upon last week’s outing.
“That game hopefully gave him a lot of confidence,” said Buono. “Jonathon’s our quarterback and when you look at the future, he’s a part of that right now.”
Buono didn’t put any stock into the fact that the Lions came close to upsetting the Stamps the last time the two teams met.
“We didn’t play well enough,” he said. “They capitalized on our mistakes. Everybody looks at them and says they’re lucky, but when you’re a good team you create your own luck.”
Linebacker Solomon Elimimian said that the Lions are up to the daunting task of ending Calgary’s pair of winning streaks.
“Obviously their record speaks for itself,” said Elimimian, who leads the CFL with 84 total tackles, which is three ahead of Stamps linebacker Alex Singleton. “They’re always productive here at home. It’s hard to win. Obviously the crowd gets into it, but I think for us just start fast.”