CALGARY — A little bit of insight from Mark Killam helped Tre Roberson make a clutch play for the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday afternoon.
Roberson blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Lirim Hajrullahu with 32 seconds left in the game to preserve a 19-18 win for the Stampeders over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in front of 27,962 fans at McMahon Stadium.
“We know that he hits a low ball,” said Roberson of Hajrullahu, who kicked three field goals and a single earlier in the game. “Killer called a great call and I’m just happy to make the play.”
While Roberson deflected much of the praise to his special teams coach and the defensive line, Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson was quick to commend his star cornerback, who also had an interception and five tackles.
“Let’s be honest, it was above and beyond,” Dickenson said in regards to Roberson’s stand-out performance. “He’s my guy that does everything right. He shows up first. He does a lot of the extra film work. He works in the community and then to go out there and perform like he did, I was proud of him. He’s very smart. That elevation and the plays that he made showed you that he’s special.”
Eric Rogers caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell for the Stampeders (8-4), who won their third straight game.
“I just leaned on him a little bit,” Mitchell said of Rogers, who caught eight passes for 129 yards. “He had to make some big catches and he took some big hits for me tonight, too. That’s something that’s always underrated that he just does. It’s huge to have those guys on my side.”
Rene Paredes finished with four field goals for the Stamps, who will travel to Toronto to face the Argonauts on Friday.
Brandon Banks caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Dane Evans for the Tiger-Cats (9-3), whose winning streak ended at four games.
“I felt like we played well,” said Hamilton coach Orlando Steinauer. “Playing well isn’t the goal. The goal is to win. We just didn’t execute as we needed to down the stretch.”
The Ticats built up a 17-6 lead through two quarters of play before scoring just one point on an 80-yard kickoff single by Hajrullahu to start the second half.
“We just came out and laid an egg,” said Evans, who completed 34-of-43 passes for 360 yards. “It was pretty much just the opposite of the first half and every man has just got to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out why we were a little flat. We’ll learn and grow from this.”
The Stampeders trailed heading into the fourth, but Mitchell proceeded to engineer an eight-play, 89-yard drive that he capped off by tossing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Rogers in the end zone. Following the convert by Paredes, the Stamps took their first lead of the game and held on for the victory.
Following a slow start for both teams, Hajrullahu opened the scoring for Hamilton with a 25-yard field goal 6:51 into the game.
After Hajrullahu kicked a 22-yard field goal, Paredes responded with one of his own from 36 yards out before the end of the opening quarter.
Banks caught a short pass from Evans and ran the rest of the way for a 30-yard touchdown to cap off a nine-play, 75-yard drive three minutes into the second quarter.
Anthony Coombs then ran three yards into the end zone for a two-point convert to give the Ticats a 14-3 lead.
Hamilton’s next drive ended when Roberson picked off an errant pass by Evans at Calgary’s seven-yard line to end the threat.
Nine plays later, after the Stamps drove the ball 61 yards down the field, Paredes kicked a 49-yard field goal with 36 seconds remaining in the first half.
After a 31-yard kickoff return by Frankie Williams, Evans drove the Ticats into Calgary territory and Hajrullahu booted a 45-yard field goal with no time left in the clock to extend Hamilton's lead to 17-6.
Following Hajrullahu’s single to start the second half, Paredes booted a 17-yard field goal at 4:32 of the third quarter.
On the ensuing drive for Hamilton, defensive back Raheem Wilson stripped the ball from Banks and Brandon Smith picked up the fumble to give Calgary the ball back. Once again, Calgary’s drive stalled in the red zone and the Stamps had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Paredes.
Calgary’s defence came up big once again a short time later as Cordarro Law sacked Evans and jarred the ball loose at midfield, allowing Mike Rose to recover the fumble.
“In the first half, we was getting routed,” Roberson said. “As a defence, we don’t like that, especially not on our field. Everyone got together and we started making the corrections that we needed. We just went out there and we played together.”