Calgary – Reggie Bigleton didn’t have to look far for motivation on Labor Day at McMahon Stadium.
After earning a pair of touchdown passes from Jake Mayer to lead his Calgary Stampeders to a 26-18 win over the Edmonton Alex, Bigleton applauded the 3,479 fans in the stands for their support.
“When the fans get into it, it makes it sweeter,” said Bigleton, who has five passes for 57 yards. “The juices go. You don’t have to find it. It’s already there.”
Mayer referred to Bigleton as a “big player” who worked hard this season and the Calgary quarterback was delighted to see the talented receiver succeed on a stage as big as the Labor Day classic.
“He hasn’t always had everything going his way this year,” said Mayer, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 238 yards. “He didn’t always have the ball coming in his direction. In one of our biggest games of the year on Labor Day, he showed up and scored two goals.
“He’s just a real balanced guy, really selfless. When you have those kinds of guys, those are the things that can happen to them. He’s a great leader for us and it was great to see him.”
Calgary coach Dave Dickinson said he had a feeling Bigleton would have a big game against the Elks.
“I’m not surprised,” Dickinson said. “I thought he was doing all the little things, all the hard work. I think he’s one of our best workers. I think he’s a very selfless person.”
Qadim Curry fought a quick relegation for the Stampeders (7-4), which avenged a 32-20 loss to the Elks a year ago during the annual Labor Day Classics contest.
Rene Paredes scored one field goal and one goal for the Stamps, who won their 400th home game in franchise history.
Quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw touchdown passes to Dillon Mitchell and Galen Marshall for the Elks (3-9), who have lost two consecutive games and five of their past six games.
“It’s just another moment,” said Cornelius, who completed 22 of 33 passes for 257 yards. “I felt like we were hanging out with them the whole match.
“Then (in) the third quarter we stopped, we had a lot of doubles matches and we couldn’t stay on the field long enough, we left our defense there, and here it seemed like the match turned into a bit of a momentum.”
Sergio Castillo scored a field goal for Edmonton, while John Ryan netted one.
In Edmonton’s first drive, Cornelius floundered in midfield and Stamps defensive line Derek Wiggan recovered the ball on alert to give Calgary a good position on the field.
After four plays, Curry ran for three yards to lock in a fast 51 yards.
The Elks responded late in the first quarter when Cornelius delivered a 48-yard ace to Mitchell to eliminate a six-play, 90-yard run.
Neither team could get anything offensive in the second quarter as Ryan grabbed the lone point scoring from 51 yards to give the Elks an 8-7 lead at the end of the first half.
Both teams had chances to score points from turnovers but could not take advantage of them.
Early in the second quarter, Sean Lemmon stripped the ball from Cornelius’ hand before Cameron Judge knocked it out of the bounds to give the Stamps a great field position at Edmonton’s 43-yard line. Three plays later, Meyer was fired by Jake Sirisna and the Stamps had to play.
On Calgary’s next possession, Mark McLaurin picked up a miss by Mayer, but all the Alex could muster into their driving was a song by Ryan.
Mayer threw an eight-yard TD pass to Bigleton in 6:29 of the third quarter to give Calgary the lead. After Malik Henry earned a pass from Mayer in the end zone for a two-point conversion, the Stamps went up 15-8.
After Edmonton started for the third straight twice to start the second half, Alex’s problems continued when Romeo McKnight blocked Ryan’s kick and Isaac Adeyemi Bergland took the loose ball at the 12-yard line.
Next, Begelton made a diving grab into the back corner of the end zone to pull off a 12-yard TD pass from Maier.
“Oh man, the excitement, the rush that just happened in my body, glory be to God for that,” Bigleton said regarding the light reel play. “I felt really lucky with that.”
In the start that followed, the ball hit return Peyton Logan in a face mask and bounced straight to Edmonton’s Jeremy Dominic, who was dropped on the 35-yard line in Calgary.
After five plays, the Elks had to content themselves with a 15-yard field goal from Castillo.
After Paredes kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Calgary a 25-11 lead, Cornelius Alex led in 10 plays, a 70-yard run that he finished by throwing a five-yard pass from TD to Marshall in the back of the end zone.
Paredes then missed a 40-yard field goal left, but the ball passed through the end zone for one 53 yards for the final point of the game.
“It’s Labor Day, you play somebody and then you turn around and play it five days later,” said Alex coach Chris Jones, whose team will host the Stamps in their rematch at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Saturday. “It feels good to get that taste out of our mouths.
“We will take good care of our players this week. I don’t think we have anyone injured, thank God.”
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 5, 2022.