October 9, 2011
Lions kicker cements spot as top special-teamer
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER - If this was a head-to-head competition for the divisional special teams award, Paul McCallum sealed it in grand fashion.
Itís not like Larry Taylor didnít do his best to show why the individual honour should be a close at the end of the season.
A 53-yarder for the win gives the B.C. Lions kicker the edge over the dynamic Calgary Stampeders return specialist.
It was a great battle all night.
The 41-year-old kicker came into the game with 27 straight field goals, one shy of the record held by former Saskatchewan Roughriders legend Dave Ridgway.
His first attempt: 47 yards. He made it in fine style, just one yard off his longest of the season.
Second attempt: 46 yards to take back the lead in the third quarter. It was good, drawing a standing ovation from the knowledgeable crowd at B.C. Place. He ran his streak to 30 before Taylor made a huge play.
Lining up for a 45-yarder in the fourth quarter, McCallum missed giving Taylor the chance and the dynamo returned it 122 yards for a TD.
Taylor had his best game as the returner for the Stamps. His 60-yard kickoff return in the first half put them in position for their first touchdown.
Taylor also had a 78-yard punt return TD that was negated by an illegal block by Akwasi Antwi.
Itís tough to argue against McCallumís season, though, and now you can directly chalk up a win to him.
One of the only major personnel mistakes this Stampeders regime has made was giving up on defensive lineman Keron Williams. In 2008, John Hufnagel and his crew had just taken over when they decided a month before camp that Williams wasnít big enough to play tackle and not mobile enough to play end in Chris Jonesí system. He looked big enough and fast enough to knock the ball from Henry Burris on the first offensive play, creating a fumble that turned into a quick seven points. Voters in B.C. may consider him when picking the teamís top defensive player this season Ö The sights and sounds in the renovated B.C. Place are amazing thanks to new lights and sound system. Without the pressurized dome, it also doesnít leave spectators with a headache after a game. During the opener last weekend, there were complaints about the sound quality, but with the roof closed Saturday night, the PA system was absolutely crystal clear.
When Justin Phillips ripped the ball from Lions kick returner Tim Brown on a missed field goal return, giving the Stamps the ball at the nine-yard line and position for an easy TD, it was the first points off turnovers the Lions have allowed in six games. Not a coincidence: Lions won every game during that time Ö The Lions honoured former running backs Joe Fourqurean and Sean Millington at halftime, putting both their numbers on the Wall of Fame. Both former players arrived on the field in Corvette convertibles. Fourqurean rode sitting up on the back of the passenger seat. Millington drove the car instead of riding Ö The Stamps were looking for more big plays out of the wide-side linebacker spot, so they started Daren Stone instead of Malik Jackson. It worked. Stone had a sack at the end of the first quarter to help stop a drive.
Stamps receiver Arjei Franklin spent nine weeks on the injured list and returned against the Roughriders last weekend. He did lose one job to injury, though. Third-string QB Brad Sinopoli will remain the holder on field goals, although Franklin did the job all of last season Ö The Lions have to be disappointed with the attendance of 30,622. This is just the second night of the renovated stadium and it was a first-place battle on a Saturday night Ö There could be a potential major problem for the Lions on defence as middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian left in the third quarter with a leg injury.