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Lions stun Stampeders with fourth-quarter comeback in pre-season

VANCOUVER — Rookie quarterback Grant Kraemer helped spark a fourth-quarter comeback to power his B.C. Lions past the Calgary Stampeders 38-36 in pre-season action on Friday.

The Lions were down 14 points and offensively flat at the end of the third frame before Kraemer subbed in to throw for 145 yards and add a one-yard rushing touchdown.

He was the third B.C. quarterback to see action, coming in for Austin Apodaca who added 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.

B.C.’s roster underwent a radical overhaul during the off-season, with the team signing Reilly to a four-year, $2.9-million deal, adding a number of key veterans from around the league and installing rookie head coach DeVone 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.

B.C. split its two pre-season contests, dropping an earlier decision to the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Stampeders previously trampled the Saskatchewan Roughriders 37-1.

Calgary’s young talent also flourished on Friday. The Stampeders included 34 first-year players on the roster, compared to the 39 for the Lions.

Stamps defensive back Marko Myers sparked a offensive tear midway through the second quarter, intercepting a pass from Apodaca and streaking 65-yards down the sideline into the end zone.

First-year receiver Hergy Mayala and fourth-year veteran Juwan Brescacin also contributed touchdowns.

Rookies were key on Calgary’s back end, too, forcing multiple Lions fumbles and turnovers. New defensive back Reese Flemming led the Grey Cup champions with six defensive tackles, while fellow first-year player Nick Statz added another four.

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.