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Published Time: 01.06.2024 - 02:13:30 Modified Time: 01.06.2024 - 02:13:30

“In terms of the competitiveness, in terms of an assignment-sound type game, I felt like we were there tonight,” Maier said. Blue Bombers

WINNIPEG — Quarterback Jake Maier was glad the Calgary Stampeders had something to cheer after an emotionally tough week.

Star receiver Malik Henry requires season-ending surgery after tearing his patellar tendon in his knee. He had been making a comeback from an Achilles tendon tear early last season.

Receiver Auden Tate suffered a torn Achilles during the same practice.

Maier saw the receiving corps play hard when he was slinging them balls in the first quarter against the Bombers or watching from the sidelines.

“In terms of the competitiveness, in terms of an assignment-sound type game, I felt like we were there tonight,” Maier said.

“And when you have those two things going for you, man, you can really live with anything that happens. They’re going to do everything they can and we’re going to be ready to go this year.”

Winnipeg is auditioning punt and kick returners this season as the team couldn’t afford to keep veteran Janarion Grant, who signed with the Toronto Argonauts.

Chris Smith made coaches take notice when the Blue Bombers running back took a punt return 109 yards for a touchdown.

Smith’s score at 12:38 of the second quarter had 24,297 fans cheering for the Kansas product at the newly renamed Princess Auto Stadium.

“All week, all camp, I've just been waiting on the opportunity,” Smith said. “And the Lord finally blessed me with it. Once I get hands on it and got eyes on it, it was all air and opportunity.”

Winnipeg also got points from a Sergio Castillo 42-yard field goal.

The Stampeders dressed a number of offensive and defensive starters, while the Bombers sat most of their regulars.

Maier opened the game and three other hopefuls had their turns under centre. Veteran kicker Rene Paredes didn’t suit up.

Winnipeg sat offensive stars such as quarterback Zach Collaros, all four of its starting receivers and running back Brady Oliveira, who missed training camp because of an injury but is expected to play in next week’s season opener.

Fair made field goals from 30, 34, 27, 15 yards and 18 yards and was good on two converts. Calgary also notched a safety.

Stampeders receiver Cam Echols topped all pass catchers with eight receptions for 160 yards.

Calgary head coach and general manager Dave Dickenson said Echols likely separated himself from the pack.

“We were looking for somebody to take the lead on that. I thought he did,” Dickenson said. “Overall, I thought we looked pretty fast.”

CFL teams have to cut down their rosters by 10 p.m. ET on Saturday.

“That training camp went by fast,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said. “I mean, sure, we got a bunch of answers and we’ll pore through it tonight and again (Saturday) morning and making sure we’re trying to give the most to these guys, in terms of evaluation. They deserve it.”

Calgary led 3-0 after the first quarter, 11-7 at the halftime and 18-10 heading into the fourth.

Maier guided the Stampeders to Fair’s 30-yarder at 9:30 of the first. He completed four of five pass attempts for 92 yards.

Matt Shiltz took over from Maier for the second quarter and was 5-of-13 passing for 101 yards.

The Bombers used quarterbacks Terry Wilson and Darren Grainger as the team searches for a third passer behind Collaros and Chris Streveler.

Fair made it 6-0 five minutes into the second quarter before Smith’s TD gave the home squad the lead.

Calgary added a safety with 1:39 left in the quarter when linebacker Micah Teitz pulled down Grainger in the end zone. Fair then booted a 27-yarder with a minute remaining for the 11-7 edge.

Lightning and rain rolled into the area during halftime, causing the delay of the second half.

Quarterback Logan Bonner put together a drive capped by Logan’s 16-yard catch-and-run TD at 3:24 of the third quarter.

Castillo’s 42-yarder made it 18-10 at 7:29.

Fair hit his fourth field goal from 15 yards out 33 seconds into the fourth.

After Wilson was intercepted by Calgary defensive back Tyler Richardson, quarterback Kyle Vantrease was at the helm and the drive ended with Fair’s 18-yarder at 7:00 to make it 24-10.

Bellamy pushed in for a one-yard score at 8:33.