CALGARY — Shawn Bane and Malik Henry scored the first touchdowns of their CFL careers for the Calgary Stampeders in a 23-17 win over the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.
Bane, who was signed by the Stampeders on Sept. 19 and made his CFL debut Saturday, struggled to remember the last time he'd scored a TD.
"Oh, god bless. I'm gonna have to say like 2018 my senior year in college," said the 26-year-old out of Northwest Missouri State.
"This is my first game in two years. It felt good, the atmosphere, this whole feeling of 'wow, I'm on the field again and able to just compete.' It felt amazing."
Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw touchdown passes to Henry and Bane and completed 16-of-25 passes for 184 yards. Kicker Rene Paredes was good on three of four field-goal attempts for Calgary (3-5).
Mitchell didn't finish the game because of a sore shoulder, however. Backup Jake Maier drew in for the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
"It's definitely something that's been sore, been bothering me," Mitchell said. "I just didn't feel like I had the pop. I could still throw on the sideline, but I knew if it came down to it, I would have to make a throw (where) I could just fire the ball.
"I just didn't want to be selfish in that moment and let the ball sail or something by not having that pop that I thought I needed. Made the call to put Jake, so we were smart about that."
Mitchell had off-season shoulder surgery.
"It just kind of re-irritated, so I'll get it looked at, but it will be fine. I'll take the (B.C. Lions quarterback) Michael Reilly route and have some doctors put some special sauce on it before the game," the quarterback said.
William Powell scored a rushing TD for Saskatchewan (5-3). Quarterback Cody Fajardo was 25-for-44 in passing for 269 yards. Brett Lauther booted three field goals.
"We didn't play well enough and that's the frustrating part for me," Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said. "We've got a pretty good veteran team and I don't see a lot of other guys we could dress to be honest.
"We've got our best players playing and they're not playing as we'd like. We're not playing as well as we'd like as a team. We've got to get better fairly soon because there's only (six) games left."
Saskatchewan faces Calgary in three straight games in October interrupted only by a bye week. It's the first time since 1951 that a team plays the same opponent three games in a row in the regular season.
Calgary is in Regina next Saturday and in Vancouver to face the Lions (4-4) the following week.
The Stampeders, who were coming off a bye week, moved out of the West Division basement ahead of the Edmonton Elks (2-5).
"We're a team that's still battling really hard," said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson, who is Craig's brother. "We're not playing that well. We're not, but we are grinding and we needed this win badly."
Calgary and Saskatchewan met for the first time in almost two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Announced attendance at McMahon Stadium was 25,516.
Maier marshalled the offence to within field-goal range late in the fourth quarter. Paredes made the 43-yard kick to pad Calgary's lead to nine points with 2:36 remaining in the game.
Saskatchewan wasn't able to convert its following possession into a major. The visitors settled for a 28-yard field goal from Lauther.
Kian Schaffer-Baker recovered the onside kick for Saskatchewan, but the play was called back because of a an illegal interference penalty called on Jake Harty.
Lauther recovered the ball on the ensuing re-kick to give the 'Riders the ball on their own 35-yard line.
Andrew Seinet-Spaulding's sack of Fajardo left Saskatchewan with a third-and-10 on Calgary's 42-yard line. Jonathan Moxey intercepted Fajardo's long bomb downfield to preserve Calgary's victory.
"Cody just decided to take a shot on that," Craig Dickenson said.
"I think there's other options. He bases his decision on what he sees on the field. He decided to take a shot on the right. We've got to live and die with the decisions we made as coaches and players. I'm not worried about that.
"Third and 10, we only needed 10, but he decided to get it all and here we are."
The Roughriders trailed 20-7 after three quarters. Fajardo and Schaffer-Baker combined on a 71-yard passing play early in the fourth to get to Calgary's four-yard line.
The visitors trailed by a touchdown when Powell ran the ball in to score on the next possession.
The ball skimmed off Bane's hand and into the clutches of Saskatchewan's Ed Gainey for an interception late in the third quarter. The Roughriders produced a 54-punt single out of the turnover.
Paredes was wide right on a 45-yard field goal midway through the third quarter. Jamal Morrow ran the ball out to the 23-yard line. The Roughriders got no further than that and punted.
Paredes didn't miss on Calgary's ensuing drive. The Stampeder kicker put a 40-yarder through the uprights for a 20-6 Calgary lead.
Kickoff was delayed a few minutes for the completion of the Montreal-Hamilton broadcast of a game that went into overtime. The Alouettes won 23-20.
Calgary led 17-6 at halftime. Lauther's second field goal of the night was a 27-yarder with 92 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Stampeders didn't eke a major out of juicy field position starting from Saskatchewan's 43-yard line in the second. Calgary still led 17-3 on a 40-yard field goal from Paredes at 5:22.
Fajardo overthrew Kienan LaFrance in the end zone to start the second quarter. The 'Riders eventually settled for Lauther's 23-yard field goal.
The Stampeders scored in the first quarter for the first time this season and on both of their opening two drives.
"We wanted to get a faster start," Dave Dickenson said. "If you get the faster start, and get the lead, you can overcome some mistakes.
"You can overcome some football you're not real proud of later on because you've taken the lead and you've kind of established your identity early. Hopefully we can do that again next week."
Bane grabbed Mitchell's 24-yard throw to the end zone to cap a seven-play, 47-yard march.
Mitchell's 32-yard throw to Bane combined with a Roughrider unnecessary roughing penalty during Calgary's opening drive put the hosts on Saskatchewan's doorstep.
Henry, who had missed the two previous games with an ankle injury, caught Mitchell's seven-yard toss and ran it into the end zone.
In the game within a game, the league's sack leader (Saskatchewan) was pitted against the team that was doing the best job of protecting its quarterback (Calgary). Mitchell was sacked three times Saturday — twice by A.C. Leonard.
Notes: The Stampeders were without leading receivers Kamar Jorden (hamstring) and Jordan Huff (ankle) . . . Roughriders defensive lineman A.C. Leonard drew back into the lineup after a three-game suspension for failing to supply a sample to drug testers and for verbally abusing doping officials . . . Fajardo is a career 0-3 against Calgary, making the Stampeders the only CFL opponent he has yet to beat.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2021.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press