Hello Henry!

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

Turns out, Henry Burris doesn't suck.

Contrary to the litany of black and green T-shirts in the soldout stands suggesting otherwise, the former Roughriders quarterback demonstrated last night why 'Rider Nation has been so hopped up over his departure.

After three weeks of bad reads, poor deliveries, dropped balls and a blatant disregard for the running game, the Stampeders pivot united all his weapons for a sterling performance that should silence critics of the pricey free-agent signing. For now.

"We needed a game like this because we sputtered out of the blocks," said Burris, unable to stop grinning.

"In the Saskatchewan fans' eyes, I guess I still suck because I left."

As expected, Burris' introduction before the first offensive play drew a chorus of boos from a massive contingent of green-garbed fans. He wasted no time responding by showcasing the versatility that earned him a $350,000 offer to help turn around a Stamps team void of leadership the last four years.

Finally taking advantage of a running ability that helped make him such an attractive acquisition, Burris mixed in a few timely scrambles with a series of short passes on an opening scoring drive, giving the hosts the type of early momentum so sadly lacking until last night.

Three Sandro DeAngelis field goals, including a 56-yard bomb, set the stage for a slaughter few could have predicted.

From there, Burris added his first of two one-yard touchdown plunges of his own, opening the floodgates on a night when he connected on 21 of 30 passes for 302 yards as part of 504 yards offence. He did it with a careful blend of short and deep passes to a cast of talents headed up by Jeremaine Copeland, Gerald Harris, Ken-Yon Rambo and Nik Lewis, who hauled in a gem of an endzone strike from Burris 20 yards out.

Lewis' score, which put the Stamps up 20-3, was followed by an eastward stare from Burris who wanted to see the looks on the faces of his former teammates.

"That's just the competitive nature," said Burris.

"There were some emotions there but at the end of the night I love those guys."

He loved the score even more -- 44-18 -- which, quite frankly, flattered the visitors.

Doing well to keep Saskatchewan's D off-balance all night with brilliant play-calling and execution, Burris finally stopping believing he had to carry the load himself.

Heeding the advice from just about everyone in Calgary, the Stamps finally gave running back Joffrey Reynolds a chance to showcase his talents. Responding with 150 yards on the ground, Reynolds made it clear the opposition can no longer focus strictly on Burris. And that lets guys such as Copeland get open.

"When you're running the ball like that it opens up a lot for Henry," said Copeland, who had 50 yards in receiving.

"He proved when he's confident and calm he can do anything."

The Stamps repeatedly marched downfield thanks to a playbook that may finally include enough shiny gadgets and options to ensure the all-star cast of Stamps assembled by the new owners can challenge in the west. Burris will say he knew all along but he could forgive those who doubted him following last week's loss in Ottawa.

"Now the guys can believe in what we're doing," said Burris, who thrilled the soldout crowd of 35,652 with 42 yards rushing on seven dashes.

"We needed this to get back in the race."

And just like that, a season that could have been heading towards disaster has been put back on track at 2-2.

Just ask Smilin' Hank -- nothing sucks about that.


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