ALBERTA

Late field goal lifts Grey Cup champ Stampeders to opening win over Tiger-Cats

06/27/2015 12:17 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - Rene Paredes emerged as the hero for the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night, but it wouldn't have happened without a big play from teammate Keon Raymond.

Raymond had a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, while Paredes kicked a 50-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to lead the Stampeders to a thrilling 24-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of last year's Grey Cup.

"Somebody needed to be able to make a spark if it was me or somebody else," Raymond said. "It was just my number that was called. I had an opportunity to make a play and I stepped up."

After Raymond lunged forward to pick off an errant pass by Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros, he got back up and ran the length of the field before Jon Cornish added a two-point convert when he ran in the ball from three yards out to tie up the game at 18-18.

"That's the first thing I want to do all the time when I get the ball in my hands is I'm trying to score every single time," Raymond said. "It's always hard when the defence gets an interception, but it's a backbreaker when they do a pick-six. It gave us an opportunity, the momentum that we were in the game. It's like a 14-point swing."

Justin Medlock then kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired in the third quarter before adding a 48-yard single early in the fourth to put the Ticats back up 22-18.

Nursing a four-point lead with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter, the Ticats stood their ground to stop backup Calgary quarterback Drew Tate from rushing the ball into the end zone on a third-and-one situation. But the Stamps kept their composure and rallied for the win.

Paredes also booted a 43-yard field goal at 12:25 of the fourth quarter to pull the Stamps within a point before Medlock kicked his third single of the game to put Hamilton up by a pair.

That set up the thrilling finish and Paredes didn't disappoint the 28,487 in attendance at McMahon Stadium.

"It's definitely a boost of confidence," said Paredes, who connected on 33-of-45 field-goal attempts last season. "I'm just really excited. After last season I was never down. I had to work hard and compete. That's what I did. This feels great."

Raymond wasn't surprised to see Paredes come through in the clutch, despite the fact Buddy Jackson was assessed an objectionable conduct penalty to add 10 extra yards in distance to the kick.

"This dude is the best kicker in the league," Raymond said. "For us to get a penalty … then have to take it 10-yards back, no sweat. This dude has got ice in his veins. That's why he's the best."

Eric Rogers caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Calgary starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who completed 22-of-35 passes for 263 yards to go with one touchdown pass and three interceptions.

Receiver Jeff Fuller had a productive game for the Stamps with nine catches for 148 yards.

Johnny Sears Jr. had a pair of interceptions, including one for a touchdown, for the Ticats. Sears picked off a pass by Mitchell on Calgary's opening drive and ran it back 75 yards into the end zone. The veteran defensive back also intercepted Mitchell at mid-field in the fourth quarter.

"We're going to regroup and come back next week harder than ever," said Sears, who spent the past five seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before signing with Hamilton in the off-season.

Brandon Banks ran back a punt for a touchdown, Medlock also kicked a pair of field goals, while Collaros completed 27-of-38 passes for 281 yards.

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