Lions roar back for 38-36 win over Stampeders in pre-season action

It was a performance that impressed Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks

Less than two weeks after signing his first CFL contract, quarterback Grant Kraemer stepped into the starring role Friday night to help the B.C. Lions to a 38-36 comeback win over the Calgary Stampeders in the final pre-season game for both teams.

The 23-year-old native of Northridge, Cali., came off the bench in the fourth quarter to throw for 145 yards and a touchdown. He also added a TD of his own with a one-yard rush.

It was a performance that impressed Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks, who has until 10 p.m. ET on Saturday to make his final roster cuts for Week 1 of the CFL regular season.

“He’s got some moxie. To come in an adverse situation, there wasn’t any panic in his voice, he went through his reads,” Claybrooks said. “Kudos to the kid for performing in a pressure situation and showing up.”

Kraemer was a late addition to B.C.’s roster, joining the team midway through training camp in Kamloops, B.C. late last month.

The Drake University alumni knew from the beginning that he had to put in extra work to make a mark. Unfamiliar with the Canadian game, he devoured YouTube highlights and studied every page of the Lions’ play book.

That work paid off on Friday night when the rookie quarterback made a series of tough plays in the game’s final minutes.

“I think it was just the preparation, studying my butt off every single night, every single play so when I got in the game, I knew what plays were going to be coming and I knew where to go with the football,” Kraemer said.

B.C. was down 14 points and offensively flat at the end of the third frame before Kraemer subbed in for Austin Apodaca, who had 115 passing yards and an interception.

Lions fans got their first look at the team’s new star pivot Mike Reilly, who tossed for 110 yards in the first, completing 8-of-11 passes and sneaking across the goal line for a touchdown.

Calgary’s veteran quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 84 yards and a touchdown, completing 4-of-6 passes in the first quarter.

He was replaced by Nick Arbuckle in the second frame. He added 87 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception before Montell Cozart closed out the game by throwing for 106 yards.

Calgary’s first-year receiver Hergy Mayala and fourth-year veteran Juwan Brescacin contributed touchdowns.

The Stamps also got a TD from rookie defensive back Marco Myers, who intercepted a pass from Apodaca and streaked 65-yards down the sideline into the end zone.

Calgary coach Dave Dickenson said he’s intrigued by the young athlete, but noted he missed some plays as well.

“I like his attitude. I know he’s physical and he wants to be here. We need to grade the film on that,” he said.

Several young players made mistakes on Friday night, the coach added, saying he saw some guys panic late in the game.

“You could probably tell there was a lot of young players. We let a lot of double moves and plays down the field. A lot of it is because we weren’t getting pressure on the quarterback,” Dickenson said.

Now he wants to find out how his players react to real pressure.

“Who gets tight? Who enjoys the big moments? And I thought certainly our youngsters got tight late in the game.”

B.C. also fielded a number of untested athletes on Friday night, part of a roster that underwent a radical overhaul during the off-season.

The team signed Reilly to a four-year, $2.9-million deal, added a number of key veterans from around the league and installed Claybrooks at the helm.

The new-look squad started off strong on Friday, trading scoring opportunities with the Stamps across the first quarter.

Running back John White added a touchdown late in the frame following a solid, patient offensive push.

But when stars like Reilly and receivers Duron Carter and Bryan Burnham were replaced with younger players looking to cement their place on this year’s roster in the second quarter, the offence faltered.

The Lions struggled to penetrate the Stamps defence through the third and second frames, putting away a single field goal across the two quarters.

Kraemer and running back Wayne Moore added three touchdowns in the fourth to help dig the Lions out of the hole.

The finish bodes well for the season ahead, said Burnham, one of B.C.’s few returning veterans.

“We just found out what it takes to win early on in the season,” he said. ”That’s a plus for us. That’s a good lesson for these guys to learn, how to overcome adversity.”

The Lions will kickoff their regular season on June 15 when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Calgary will see a Grey Cup rematch the same night, when the Stampeders battle the Ottawa Redblacks.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Smithers Community Radio buys Lions railcar

The Lions are liquidating assets following dissolution announcement

Northwest Indigenous governments form new alliance

Alliance intended as way to share resources, maximize opportunities

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. tent camps persist as hotels, housing bought for homeless

Current estimate 40 camps, homeless counts stalled by COVID-19

Most Read