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CFL Preview - Ottawa (1-4) at Calgary (4-1)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, August 9, 7:30 p.m. (ET).

GAME NOTES: Calgary attempts to bounce back from its first loss of the season when the Stampeders play host to the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks Saturday evening at McMahon Stadium.

Calgary, which is tied with Edmonton for second place in the West Division standings, two points behind Winnipeg, rattled off four straight victories to begin the 2014 campaign before being taken down by British Columbia in Week 6 action by a score of 25-24 at home.

What makes the setback to the Lions so difficult is the fact that the hosts owned a 21-10 advantage at halftime and were then held to just a 35-yard field goal by Rene Paredes in the fourth frame. Had Paredes been given even one more shot at a field goal somewhere along the way, there's a good chance the Stamps would have come out on top.

As it were, Bo Levi Mitchell saw his run of wins as starter at the beginning of his career snapped at seven, leaving him in a tie with former Stampeder Jeff Garcia for the CFL record in that department. Mitchell converted 21-of-31 for 227 yards and a score, tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown and was sacked one time. It was the first pick of the season for the signal caller and his first in 142 attempts overall.

Joining Mitchell and the rest of the Stamps on the field, making his first appearance in a CFL contest since 2009, was running back Martell Mallett who ran for a game-high 116 yards on 14 attempts and also caught a team-best six passes for an additional 59 yards.

From a defensive perspective, Keon Raymond was credited with an interception that he returned 63 yards for a major in the second quarter to help boost the Calgary advantage.

It is not often that a game features an interception return for a TD on both sides, but if that was thought to be a bit unusual then the RedBlacks surely stole the show during their 38-14 loss to visiting Saskatchewan last Saturday.

It wasn't so much that Ottawa again was left in the dust, bowing for the second straight game and fourth time in five tries, it was more specifically the play made by Dobson Collins in the second quarter that finally put the RedBlacks on the board after the Roughriders opened with a 32-0 scoring run.

Needing some sort of a spark to at least get the hometown crowd engaged, backup quarterback Thomas DeMarco punted away on third and three from his own side of midfield and the ball ended up deep in the end zone. Because Collins was behind DeMarco when the kick was made, he was eligible to recover the ball for a touchdown. A rare play that had not been successfully pulled off since 1999.

Coincidentally, the touchdown by Collins was also the first of the season for the RedBlacks on their home field. In their first home date during Week 4 action the RedBlacks took down Toronto by a score of 18-17, courtesy of six successful field goals by Brett Maher. Unfortunately for Ottawa, Maher has made a total of just six field goals in all the other games the team has played to date.

Quarterback Henry Burris, who played for Calgary for a total of nine seasons during two separate stints in his 15-year CFL career, converted 17-of-33 for 217 yards, was sacked two times and had a pair of passes picked off. Burris has completed only 56.2 percent of his pass attempts so far this season, leading to four touchdowns in five contests.

As expected, the Ottawa offense has had issues getting into gear and is currently eighth in the league in scoring with just 18.8 ppg, ahead of only Montreal (15.0 ppg) heading into Week 7 action. Perhaps things would not seem so bleak if not for the fact that the RedBlacks are last in the league in yards allowed, permitting a hefty 399.4 ypg.

Despite the sporadic play by Ottawa, the team is still just two points out of first place in the slumping East Division where Toronto is at the top of the standings with a record of just 2-4 and the other two clubs, Hamilton and Montreal, are tied with the RedBlacks for second place with marks of 1-4.

Even though this is the first season for the RedBlacks, there is a history between franchises that have represented these two cities over the years. In fact, Calgary shows a 36-23 advantage over opponents from Ottawa dating back to 1961, but only focusing on regular-season encounters.

The last time an Ottawa club and the Stamps hooked up was Sept. 22, 2005 as Calgary ripped through the visitors, 45-23. However, Ottawa has won four of the last five meetings and five of the last eight.

In a little over two weeks from now, Ottawa will have the opportunity to host the Stampeders in the second and last matchup of the regular season.

Expect Mitchell to be back on point this week as he tries to shake off his first loss as a starter. He may not put up stellar numbers, but against the struggling RedBlacks he really doesn't have to in order for the Stamps to come out on top.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 31, Ottawa 17

08/06 11:01:23 ET

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