Stampeders come from behind to beat Elks in Labour Day thriller

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to overtake the visiting Edmonton Elks 35-31 on Monday.

Trailing by 15 points after three quarters, Stampeder quarterback Jake Maier scored a rushing touchdown and threw a touchdown pass to Reggie Begelton in the end zone. Dedrick Mills scored the winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the game on a four-yard carry.

Calgary (4-8) snapped a three-game losing streak. Edmonton (2-10) dropped to 2-2 since Canadian quarterback Tre Ford took over as the Elks starting QB. Alberta’s CFL clubs meet again Saturday in Edmonton.

Maier completed 27 of 34 passes for 315 yards and was intercepted once.

Calgary’s Rene Paredes kicked field goals from 15, 24, 32 and 48 yards, while Cody Grace contributed a punt single in front of an announced 26,741 at smoky McMahon Stadium.

Ford rushed for 135 yards Monday. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown pass without an interception in the Labour Day game.

Edmonton slotback Steven Dunbar caught a pair of touchdown passes and third-string quarterback Taylor Cornelius scored a one-yard rushing touchdown.

Dean Faithfull kicked field goals from 20, 39 and a season-high 46 yards, and Jake Julien added a punt single for the Elks.

Down 28-13 early in the fourth quarter, Maier scored Calgary’s first touchdown of the game on a five-yard run. A Paredes convert had the hosts trailing by eight points.

Faithfull’s 46-yard field goal gave Edmonton an 11-point lead, but Calgary successfully challenged for pass interference on a Maier pass to Reggie Begelton in the end zone with just over three minutes remaining.

Maier connecting with Luther Hakunavanhu on a two-point convert pass after that touchdown had the hosts trailing by three points.

An Edmonton two-and-out gave Calgary the ball back with two-and-a-half minutes to go when chants of “Go Stamps Go” erupted at McMahon.

Maier marched Calgary downfield on a 10-play, 83-yard drive capped by Mills’ scoring run and a Paredes convert.

Calgary’s quarterback was booed at McMahon late in the first half when he fumbled the ball on a second-and-15 and recovered it.

Edmonton turned the subsequent possession into a touchdown, with wide receiver Kyran Moore taking a handoff from Ford and throwing to Dunbar in the end zone.

The Elks led 21-10 early in the second half on Faithfull’s 39-yarder before the Stampeders hurt themselves with untimely penalties.

An 18-yard carry to Edmonton’s doorstep by Mills was negated 15 yards by his unnecessary roughness penalty after the play.

Maier’s subsequent throw to Begelton in the end zone was called back because of Brandon Weldon’s holding penalty, so Calgary settled for another Paredes field goal to trail 21-13.

Ford capped an eight-play, 64-yard drive with a five-yard toss to Dunbar and a 28-13 lead for the Elks to end the third quarter.

Paredes’ 24-yard field goal knotted the score 7-7 early in the second quarter, but Julien’s punt single, Faithfull’s 20-yard field and Dunbar’s 19-yard touchdown catch spotted the visitors an 18-7 lead.

The Stampeders trailed 18-10 at halftime on Paredes’ 48-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter.

Calgary led 4-0 early on a 15-yard field goal by Paredes and Grace’s punt single. But the Elks countered before the opening quarter ended with a one-yard plunge by Cornelius, which was set up by a 40-yard run by Ford.

Forest fire smoke drifted into the city overnight Saturday. Environment Canada’s air quality index for northwest Calgary at 5 p.m. MT kickoff Monday read nine out of 10, or “high risk.”

CFL associate vice-president of officiating Darren Hackwood told media during a June pre-season conference call that the threshold to play a game was seven.

A game can start at an AQI of seven provided air quality is projected to not worsen, Hackwood said in June. Environment Canada’s AQI was still nine for northwest Calgary two hours after kickoff.

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