Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson knows when it comes to crunch time, he can depend on veteran kicker Rene Parades.
The 38-year-old Parades, in his 12th season with the Stampeders, lifted Calgary to a 33-31 CFL victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday with a 50-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.
“It was a great kick. He was hitting it good all night. I have a lot of faith in his leg strength but 50 [yards] is not easy,” said Dickenson. “He’s really clutch, he’s done a great job throughout his career. When he’s on, like he was in this game, I have a lot of faith in him.”
The Stampeders appeared to be in control of the game, holding a 27-17 lead with 5:26 remaining in the fourth quarter. Jamal Morrow pulled the Riders to within 27-24 with a six-yard touchdown reception with 2:45 left in the fourth, but Parades extended Calgary’s lead to 30-24 with his third field goal of the game one minute later.
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And that’s when things got interesting.
With Mason Fine at the controls in place of starter Trevor Harris, who was injured midway through the fourth quarter, the Riders managed to find a way to take the lead.
With the ball on the Saskatchewan 41-yard line, Fine lofted a desperation pass deep down the left sideline. Receiver Tevin Jones, surrounded by three Calgary defenders, managed to grab the deflected pass and then dart 15 yards into the end zone. The ensuing convert put the Riders ahead 31-30.
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When asked what he expected from his defensive backs on the play, Dickenson provided a simple answer.
“I just wanted them to bat it down. I can hear my wife saying, `Knock it down, knock it down.’ Because that’s what you do, you knock it down,” said Dickenson. “I was pissed off and I couldn’t believe it, but the next thing you do is take a deep breath and go win the game. That’s what we did.”
After the Saskatchewan touchdown, Calgary was left with 36 seconds to respond. Quarterback Jake Maier believed that was enough time to get into field goal range.
“I looked at the clock and knew that we had time. I knew we needed a big return and Clark [Barnes] made it happen. When we got close to the 40-yard line, I thought it was just one big chunk away and went for it,” said Maier.
In addition to dealing with the defeat, the Riders will apparently have to go forward without Harris, who suffered an apparent serious knee injury with 9:19 left in the fourth quarter.
Scrambling out of the pocket, he was tackled to the turf with one of the Calgary defenders rolling up on Harris’s right leg. Harris was taken from the field on a cart.
“I want to commend Trevor Harris. He was a warrior, he went for the first down to give his team a chance to win. When he got hurt, it took a lot of air out of the stadium and both teams,” said Dickenson. “We did get after him pretty good tonight but he just kept coming and that’s what is required to win a game. I want to make sure Trevor’s all right.”
Saskatchewan kick returner Mario Alford had an outstanding game, returning two punts for touchdowns. He took a punt 67 yards to the end zone in the first quarter and followed up with a 94-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter.
Alford has registered seven special teams touchdowns In 18 games with the Riders since being acquired from the Montreal Alouettes early in the 2022 season. He has scored on three punt returns, two kickoffs and two missed field goals.
Calgary, which improved to 2-3 with the victory, finished with seven sacks. James Vaughters, Julian Howsare and Mike Rose had two sacks each with Cameron Judge collecting one.
Maier finished 26 of 37 passing for 315 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception. Luther Hakunavanhu and Tommylee Lewis had touchdown receptions for Calgary while Dedrick Mills scored on a six-yard run.
Fine had 122 yards passing, completing six of eight passes for the Riders who are now 3-2. He had touchdown passes to Jones and Morrow.
Saskatchewan linebacker Larry Dean registered five tackles, giving him 502 career tackles. He’s the 19th player in CFL history to reach 500 career tackles.
The 2-3 Stampeders return to Calgary to host the Ottawa Redblacks on July 23, while the Riders travel to Vancouver to play the B.C. Lions on July 22.