CALGARY — In his first career start, rookie quarterback Jake Meier threw for 304 yards and a touchdown on Friday night as the Calgary Stampeders overcame an 11-point second-quarter deficit and then hung on for a thrilling 28-22 victory over the Montreal Alouettes.
The 24-year-old got the start after two-time Most Outstanding Player Bo Levi Mitchell was placed on the six-game injured list earlier in the week with a fractured fibula.
It was a dubious start as a pair of first quarter interceptions turned into Montreal touchdowns and a 14-3 lead for the visitors, but Maier settled in nicely after that, bolstered by strong defensive play by the Stampeders.
An eight-play, 100-yard drive — that began with a Royce Metchie interception of Vernon Adams Jr. — was capped off by a Ka’Deem Carey one-yard rush that closed the gap to 14-9. Rene Paredes’ second field goal of the game, this one from 52 yards out, made it 14-12 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Calgary limited Montreal to just one first down on four possessions. The Stampeders eventually took advantage of its gradually improving field position by capping off a 41-yard drive with Meier’s first touchdown pass, a four-yard completion to Kamar Jorden.
The starting yard line for that drive, as well as 15 yards of that drive, was the result of Montreal roughing penalties. Another Alouettes penalty, this one for clipping, on the ensuing kick-off resulted in Montreal being pinned deep and punter Joseph Zema yielding a safety, which increased Calgary’s lead to 21-14.
The Stampeders made it 28-14 on Maier’s longest completion of the night, a flea flicker in which he handed the ball to Carey, had it pitched back to him, and tossed a long bomb to Josh Huff, who came back to the football, beat Alouette defensive back Wesley Sutton one-on-one, and ran the ball to the one for an 83-yard pass and catch.
More undisciplined play from the Alouettes opened the door for a second Carey touchdown, as he dove over the goal line from the one. Montreal had the Stampeders stopped at the two-yard line and facing third down on the play previous, but after the play, Tyquwan Glass punched Stampeders receiver Hergy Mayala.
Montreal finished the game with 16 penalties for 149 yards. Calgary had nine penalties for 80 yards.
But the Alouettes would not go down quietly.
A fourth-quarter fumble by Mayala turned the ball over to Montreal on the Calgary 45. Shortly after, Adams hit Quan Bray for a 10-yard touchdown pass to pull the Alouettes within six.
Montreal got a big two-and-out and got the ball back at their own 18. Adams led the Alouettes down the field again. But on the final play of the game from the Calgary 14, Adams completed a pass to Eugene Lewis, but after a diving catch, he was called out at the one-yard line after league video review.
Calgary’s first win of the season improves them to 1-2 while the Alouettes fall to 1-1.
Next up for the Alouettes are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats who Montreal meet on Friday in its home opener. The Stampeders are next in action next Sunday when they hit the road for the first time, travelling to Winnipeg for a clash with the Blue Bombers.
Notes: Stampeders lost a pair of defensive linemen for the game with Folarin Orimolade having to be helped off the field late in the first quarter and Jarrell Owens taken off on a cart in the second quarter, a leg injury the result of a play in which Montreal offensive linemen was handed a clipping penalty… Attendance at McMahon Stadium was 21,199.