After rare CFL tie, Calgary Stampeders host Ottawa Redblacks in rematch

Ottawa Redblacks' Tristan Jackson (38) runs the ball against the Calgary Stampeders during the first half of a CFL football game in Ottawa on July 8, 2016. Neither the Ottawa Redblacks nor the Calgary Stampeders were particularly happy after their previous meeting in Week 3 of this CFL season. The football teams played to the league???s first tie in seven years. The league-leading Stampeders host the division-leading Redblacks on Saturday at McMahon. Calgary wants to protect several current streaks while Ottawa wants to gain breathing room atop the East Division. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

CALGARY - The way Calgary Stampeders linebacker Alex Singleton sees it, Saturday's game against the Ottawa Redblacks can finish the one they started July 8.

Overtime didn't produce a winner in a 26-26 deadlock. The Stampeders and Redblacks wandered around TD Place wondering how they were supposed to react after the CFL's first tie game in seven years.

"Usually after a game you go up to somebody and say 'Good job, we'll play you again, get you next time,' " Singleton said. "It was kind of awkward. 'Good game, I guess?'

"All it really seems like is we're continuing the game we played earlier in the year. Twenty-six to twenty-six is pretty much 0-0."

The Stampeders (9-1-1) put their 6-0 record at McMahon on the line Saturday. The Redblacks (5-4-1) are trying to stay atop the East Division.

Calgary downed the host Edmonton Eskimos 34-28 last week in what was its third overtime game this season (2-0-1).

Ottawa is coming off a bye week after beating the Montreal Alouettes 19-14 on Sept. 1.

Singleton's growing impact since being taken sixth overall by Calgary in this year's CFL draft created a ripple effect for Ottawa this very week. After registering seven defensive tackles and two pass knockdowns in a home-and-home sweep of Edmonton, Singleton was promoted to starting middle linebacker, a move that made Taylor Reed expendable.

Calgary released Reed on Monday, but he was back at McMahon on Friday as a Redblack.

"Same colours, different organization, different number," Reed said. "I got a call and they asked me to come in and bring my defensive playbook.

"It's crazy how it works out to go to Ottawa and just so happen to be playing in Calgary the week after I get released."

Singleton is a ratio-breaker for the Stampeders. The California native is deemed a national player because his mother, Kim, was born in Toronto. Singleton became a Canadian citizen in October, 2015.

"Thinking and being confident I could eventually be a starter in this league, I knew it helped a ton," Singleton said.

When the 22-year-old arrived in May for training camp, it was his first time in Canada since attending a wedding in Toronto at age two.

The six-foot-two, 235-pound linebacker spent time in the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings organizations in 2015, so he came to Calgary with some pro seasoning.

"He doesn't handle it like a rookie," Stampeder defensive co-ordinator DeVone Claybrooks said. "He had NFL experience before he came.

"He's been around the game so he kind of understands what we expect, the level it takes to be successful and he put the time in. He comes early, leaves late, takes ownership when he's out there."

Saturday's game pits Ottawa's top-ranked run defence (63.6 yards allowed per game) versus a Calgary's rushing attack (90 yards per game) anchored by Canadian running back Jerome Messam.

Calgary (3,577) and Ottawa (3,556) rank second and third, respectively, in passing yards.

Stampeder quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has thrown a league-leading 20 TD passes. Trevor Harris, Ottawa's starter the last two games, and Henry Burris have thrown a combined 17.

Calgary's Ciante Evans is out with an injury, so rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson's first career start involves covering Ottawa receiver Chris Williams. Three of Williams' league-leading eight touchdowns this season were scored in the July tie.

"I've been hearing a lot about him," Richardson said. "We've been watching a lot of film trying to be prepared and getting things together to be able to handle his speed, his athletic ability and everything he comes with."

Ottawa made 10 roster moves this week, which head coach Rick Campbell said was mostly due to players returning from injury.

"It's guys that have been here and are getting healthy and it was mainly a function of that," Campbell said. "Then you throw in a guy like Taylor Reed, which was an unexpected thing, but we don't want to turn away good football players."

But an injury to Zack Medeiros that surfaced Thursday also forced Ottawa to activate international Sergio Castillo for punt duties.

"Because he's American, that causes another roster-spot switch, so that's two more of our 10 caused by that," Campbell explained.


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