The ‘Battle of Alberta’ got off to an earlier start this year. For the first time since 2014, the Eskimos and the Stampeder’s would play one another before their traditional Labour Day match. It would also be the first time Trevor Harris and Nick Arbuckle would get a chance to play in the leagues most intense rivalry! With the Winnipeg Blue Bombers losing to the Toronto Argonauts a few days earlier, the winner of this game was going to be tied for first place in the Western Conference.
It was a breezy afternoon in Calgary and the weather was definitely a factor in the game. The two defences controlled the tempo for the first 30 minutes as neither offence had much success moving the ball. The two teams battled back and forth and exchanged good field position, but neither one could take advantage when they had it. The Eskimos had the wind advantage in the first quarter, but could only manage about 40 yards of offence.
When the teams changed sides for the second quarter, Calgary could not manage any better offensively, but did score the only points of the first half. Rene Paredes was successful with field goals from 47, 43 and 42 yards as the Stampeder’s opened up a 9-0 lead. It was the Calgary special teams that played a pivotal role in those points as they had timely returns giving them the opportunity to kick those field goals. Yardage wise, the Eskimos only managed 79 yards in the first half while Calgary only had 123 yards.
At halftime, the TSN panel discussed what the Eskimos needed to do in the second half if they were going to have a chance to win this football game and that was stretch the Calgary defence. The Eskimos got the wind in the third quarter and went to work quickly erasing the 9-0 deficit. The Eskimo defence stopped the Stampeder’s deep in their own territory causing them to give up a safety to get their first points of the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Trevor Harris went after the Calgary defensive backfield hitting Ricky Collins with an 83 yard touchdown pass to tie the game 9-9.
The momentum the Eskimos built was quickly disappeared when Terry Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to restore the Calgary lead. Special teams continued to be the story of the second half as Sean Whyte missed a 35 yard goal that was returned out of the end zone to the Calgary three yard line. The Stampeder offence then went 8 plays and 107 yards against the wind to make the score 21-9 which was definitely a momentum changer for this game.
The Eskimo offence found themselves in a big hole going into the fourth quarter and responded with a five play 81 yard touchdown drive capped off with Ricky Collins second touchdown of the game to make the score 21-15. The two teams exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter with Calgary kicking theirs with just one minute left in the game to make the score 24-18. The Eskimos moved the ball deep into Calgary territory with only seconds left in the game. One final shot from the 18 yard line where the pass to Kevin Elliott was knocked away to preserve the Calgary win.
The three main aspects of any football game are offence, defence and special teams. The Eskimos actually won the battle of offence and defence, but were miserable when it came to special teams. I have not seen many games where you can only excel in one and win, but that is what the Calgary Stampeder’s managed to do. Terry Williams had 241 return yards which is more yards than the entire Calgary offence. If not for him, the Stampeder’s do not win this football game. What is even more distressing if you are an Eskimo fan is that the team continues to find ways to lose to their provincial counterparts.