SPORTS

Defending Grey Cup champions showing penchant for winning close games

07/22/2015 01:37 EDT | Updated 07/22/2016 05:59 EDT
Rene Paredes and the Calgary Stampeders have certainly showed a flair for the dramatic early this season.

The defending Grey Cup champions have the league's best record (3-1) and are atop the West Division standings. But two of those wins have come off late field goals by Paredes — a 50-yard boot on the final play to secure a 24-23 decision over Hamilton and last week a 40-yard effort with under three minutes remaining to give Calgary a 26-25 victory over Winnipeg.

The other decision was a 25-20 win over the Toronto Argonauts, so Calgary's three victories have come by a combined seven points. And on the season, the Stampeders have allowed more points (97) than they've scored (86).

On Friday night, the Stampeders visit the Ottawa Redblacks (2-2).

While Paredes accounted for the winning points against the Bombers, he certainly had help in securing the Stampeders the win.

Calgary running back Jon Cornish ran for 120 yards on 15 carries while linebacker Juwan Simpson's late interception preserved the narrow victory. The outburst moved Cornish into second overall among CFL rushers with 305 yards, one behind leader Jerome Messam of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the MVP of Calgary's Grey Cup win last year over Hamilton, completed 12-of-21 passes for 165 yards and a TD. On the season, Mitchell stands third among CFL passers with 975 yards with as many TDs (four) as interceptions (four).

After opening the season with two straight victories — matching last season's total — Ottawa dropped a home-and-home series with the Edmonton Eskimos. But after losing a 46-17 decision in Alberta on July 9, the Redblacks were on the wrong end of a 23-12 contest at TD Place last week.

Ottawa intercepted Edmonton starter Matt Nichols three times but rookie running back Shakir Bell ran for 144 yards on 18 carries. And kicker Grant Shaw made all five of his field goal attempts.

Ottawa receiver Mo Price will face his former team for the first time since being dealt by Calgary in January for linebacker Jasper Simmons and receiver Dan Buckner. Price has 12 catches for 91 yards with the Redblacks while Simmons has four tackles for the Stampeders.

Pick — Calgary.

Toronto Argonauts versus B.C. Lions on Friday night.

Toronto (2-1) won in Vancouver last year but that was its first victory there since 2002. The Argos come off the bye, their last contest being a 25-20 road loss to Calgary on July 13. Travis Lulay is an impressive 18-1 as a starter at B.C. Place for the Lions (2-1) who've won two straight. Lulay, hampered by shoulder issues the last two years, has 785 passing yards with six TDs and one pick.

Pick — B.C.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday night.

Winnipeg (2-2) dropped a heart-breaking 26-25 decision to Calgary as kicker Lirim Hajrullahu missed two-of-three field goal tries, including from 52 yards out late that would've given the Bombers the lead. While Bell was solid running the football against Ottawa, Kendial Lawrence had four catches for a game-high 92 yards for Edmonton (2-1).

Pick — Edmonton.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday night.

Saskatchewan (0-4) is the CFL's lone winless team, putting head coach Corey Chamblin on the hot seat. But the Riders' four losses have been by a combined 12 points. It's also been a less than stellar start for Hamilton (1-2) as starter Zach Collaros threw three interceptions in last week's 17-13 loss to Montreal.

Pick — Hamilton.

Last week: 2-2.

Overall: 6-10.

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