September 4, 2023

River Cree Recap: Elks lose 35-31 in Labour Day Classic

The Edmonton Elks came up just short in the Labour Day Classic, as the Green and Gold had their two-game win-streak snapped with a 35-31 loss to the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Monday night.


Leading by 15 points to start the fourth quarter, the Elks were outscored 22-3 over the final 15 minutes. Calgary scored the final 15 points of the game, including the game-winning touchdown on a four-yard rush by Dedrick Mills with 20 seconds remaining.

“This is as tough as any loss I’ve ever been involved in,” Elks coach and general manager Chris Jones said during a post-game interview on 630 CHED, radio home of the Green and Gold. “The kids played hard, we just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.”

Coming off the CFL Player of the Month honour for August, Tre Ford had another big game for the Elks, carrying the ball for 135 yards to tie Hall of Famer Ricky Ray for most rushing yards by an Edmonton quarterback since 1999. The second-year pivot was 14/23 passing for 137 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

For the second time in three games, Steven Dunbar, Jr. had two touchdown receptions for the Green and Gold. Edmonton’s Taylor Cornelius plunged for a touchdown from the one-yard line, giving the quarterback three consecutive games with a rushing TD. Dean Faithfull rounded out the scoring for the EE, going perfect on field goals (3/3) and converts (3/3).

Eugene Lewis was Edmonton’s top pass-catcher with 5 receptions for 55 yards, and Kevin Brown ran the ball 12 times for 89 yards as Edmonton totalled 239 rushing yard as a team. Calgary held a slight edge, 401-389, in net offence.

Defensively, the Elks were led by Kai Gray and Mark McLaurin with eight defensive tackles apiece. Jake Ceresna, Noah Curtis and AC Leonard all sacked Stamps quarterback Jake Maier once each.

The fourth rushing touchdown of the season by Cornelius helped stake Edmonton to a 7-4 advantage after the first quarter. Elks receiver Kyran M0ore completed the first pass attempt of his career to Dunbar for a 19-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to put Edmonton ahead 18-7 before a a field goal by Stampeders kicker Leandro Paredes on the half’s final play made the score 18-10 in favour of the Elks going into the break.

Dunbar’s second touchdown of the night, on a five-yard pass from Ford, helped put Edmonton up 28-13 going into the fourth quarter. After Maier scored a touchdown on a five-yard rush early in the fourth quarter, Faithfull’s career-long 46-yard field goal made the score 31-20 for Edmonton.

With the loss, Edmonton drops to 2-10, while the Stampeders improve to 4-8. The Elks will have a chance to avenge Monday’s loss in just five days when they host Calgary at Commonwealth Stadium in the Labour Day Classic rematch Saturday night.

“It’s an awful young group, and they’ve been resilient the entire year,” Jones said on 630 CHED. “I fully expect them to come back and get ready to get the rematch underway and go play some tough football this weekend.”


It’s the hottest game of the season when the Green and Gold take on the provincial rival Calgary Stampeders in the annual Labour Day rematch on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m.  Be there for Family Day presented by Save-On-Foods at Commonwealth Stadium. Being part of the action has never been more affordable, with tickets starting at just $15. Click here to get your tickets now and be part of the tradition.

Elks Football…Our Team. Our City.