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Paredes, Carey lead Stampeders to 30-27 season-opening win over Alouettes

CALGARY — Pulling wins out of tight games in the final three minutes was among coach Dave Dickenson's stated goals for the Calgary Stampeders during training camp.
Montreal Alouettes linebacker Chris Ackie, right, tackles Calgary Stampeders running back Ka'Deem Carey during second half CFL football action in Calgary, Thursday, June 9, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — Pulling wins out of tight games in the final three minutes was among coach Dave Dickenson's stated goals for the Calgary Stampeders during training camp.

The Stampeders delivered in their 30-27 victory over the Montreal Alouettes to open the CFL season on Thursday when Rene Paredes kicked a 38-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining.

Trailing 24-14 at halftime, the Stampeders outscored the Alouettes 16-3 in the second half.

"I'm not going to say it was a clean game in any three of the three phases, special teams, offence and defence, but the guys kept battling and rallying," Dickenson said. "We were the ones that made the plays late.

"It was a good start to the year."

Stampeder running back Ka'Deem Carey scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and Malik Henry caught a touchdown pass in front of an announced crowd of 21,139 at McMahon Stadium. 

Paredes was good on his three field-goal attempts, including two in the third quarter that ate into the 10-point halftime deficit.

"Rene, say what you want, the guy is money," Dickenson said.

Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell completed 21 of 34 passing attempts for 199 yards. Calgary's starter threw a touchdown pass and was intercepted once.

Mitchell limping slightly as he headed to the sidelines in the fourth quarter, backup Jake Maier drew in for Calgary's final two drives. 

Maier, who went 4-for-5 for 57 passing yards, navigated the Stampeders to field-goal range for Paredes to finish the job. 

Dickenson thought Mitchell suffered a muscle spasm or cramp in his leg.

"He was immobile and I'm not playing a guy that can't move, especially in Game 1," Dickenson. "I thought Bo fought hard in the second half and really made some good plays for us and brought us back. 

"I'm a hundred per cent confident in Jake as well. He did get the job done."

Montreal running back William Stanback, the CFL's leading rusher last season, was carted off the field in the second quarter after his touchdown catch in the first.

"He hurt his ankle," Montreal head coach Khari Jones said. "I don't think it's broken, but we'll find out pretty soon here. It was pretty swollen.

"You'd hate to lose someone of Stanback's stature. I think he'll be sidelined for a bit."

Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. scored a touchdown as did third-string pivot Dominique Davis on a short-yardage plunge. David Cote added a pair of field goals.

Adams Jr., completed 18 of 31 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown throw. He was intercepted twice in his first start since Oct. 11, 2021, when he sustained a season-ending arm injury in a game against Ottawa.

The Stampeders (8-6-0) finished third in the West Division last season and lost the division semifinal in overtime to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Alouettes (7-7) were similarly third in the East Division and dispatched in the semifinal by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Calgary wide receiver Richie Sindani posted a career-high, team-leading 101 receiving yards in Thursday's game. 

The 26-year-old from Regina, who played for the University of Calgary Dinos, is starting his fourth season with the Stampeders.

"It took awhile to get here," Sindani said. "Someone told me it was 101 and I thought 'Geez, I cut it close.' It's really good to get over that 100-yard mark."

Carey ranked second in CFL in rushing yards behind Stanback in 2021. His second touchdown on a five-yard carry and a Paredes convert to start the fourth quarter gave the hosts a three-point lead.

Cote pulled the Alouettes even, however, with his 23-yard field goal with 4:09 remaining in the game. Paredes was good from 41 yards and 23 yards in the third quarter for Calgary to trail 24-20.

Stampeders defensive lineman Mike Rose blocked Cote's field-goal attempt in the final minute of the third. 

Montreal scored 10 points in the last two minutes of the first half.

Adarius Pickett picked off Mitchell to give the Als the ball at midfield after Cote's 26-yard field goal. 

Adams Jr., ran the ball in from seven yards out and vaulted over Calgary defensive back Dionte Ruffin to get to the end zone. 

Stanback suffered the ankle injury taking the ball to Calgary's one-yard line midway through the second quarter. Davis finished the drive for a major.

Carey accounted for 38 yards, including a two-yard dash for a major, of Calgary's 58-yard scoring drive in the second quarter.

The teams traded converted touchdowns in the opening quarter that ended 7-7.

Stanback capped a 74-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown catch. Calgary scored first before the five-minute mark of the game when Rose picked off Adam Jr.'s first throw of the game. 

From the 49-yard line, Mitchell engineered a six-play drive finished by Henry's 10-yard touchdown catch. Henry dove and planted the ball just over the goal-line to score.

The Alouettes are in Toronto to face the Argonauts and the Stampeders travel to Hamilton to meet the Tiger-Cats in Week 2.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2022.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press