'Redemption' night

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

So much fretting and fussing about Henry Burris's mangled digit. For what?

And now No. 2 QB Jason Gesser's left ankle, apparently severely sprained late in the first half last night.

How much does it matter?

Gesser was the storyline going into this one but suddenly he's a mere footnote to the season (no painful pun intended), banished to the sidelines sporting a cast and crutches.

Even third-stringer Danny Wimprine, a virtual unknown at the controls of the Stampeders offence, the team's fate apparently in his young hands.

It makes for a wonderful story, if the Louisiana Kid continues to succeed. All three quarterbacks are making it an intriguing year down at McMahon Stadium, but now more than ever it's the Stampeders defence that will ultimately decide whether this team finally earns a ticket to the CFL playoffs.

Co-ordinator Denny Creehan's gang could do it, too, provided his crew manages to stay out of sick bay.

The unit's desire and gumption to shut down opponents was again exemplified in last night's 45-23 win over the visiting Ottawa Renegades, boosting the 7-6 club into third place in the West.

Linebacker Scott Coe, who had curled up almost in a fetal position in his locker in Ottawa after the humiliating 33-18 drubbing two months ago, called last night's game "redemption."

While talk is cheap, Coe stood behind his words to help earn a measure of revenge.

His interception of Kerry Joseph early in the first quarter to set up Calgary's first touchdown is the sort of kickstart this team needs more desperately than at any time this season.

Grabbing the ball at Ottawa's 21, Coe rumbled to the five before being push out of bounds.

"We set goals like that as a defence and guys stepped up and played," said Coe, who slapped an exclamation mark on the night with a nasty hit on 'Gades receiver Jason Armstead in the final minute.

"Nobody wants to let anyone down. No matter who plays on offence, we only worry about us. That's the nice thing about it."

Coe again stepped up to stop Renegades dynamo running back Josh Ranek on second and two, forcing a first-quarter field goal. Rahim Abdullah's sack of Joseph -- his seventh of the season -- near midfield late in the third quarter, with Ottawa leading by two points and gaining momentum, provided the Stamps with another emotional boost.

"We still feel confident in our quarterbacks but now we need to keep stepping up," Abdullah said.

"Now we're 7-6, first time (since 2001) Calgary's been to seven wins, so we really needed this one and came up big and right on time."

Abdullah was again in the Ottawa backfield in the third quarter, with Ottawa pinned at its own 12, to swallow up little Ranek on a shovel pass. The stuff forced Renegades punter Matt Kellett to concede a safety as the Stamps opened a 26-23 lead.

Although a blown assignment in the Stamps secondary allowed Ottawa's first touchdown by David Azzi in the team's opening series and Pat Woodcock grabbed a second TD grab in the third quarter, the secondary's work has been outstanding.

Although the Renegades ended Calgary's four-game string of allowing only one offensive touchdown per game, the patchwork secondary closed the door on Joseph through most of the second half.

The Renegades could manage only four first downs in the final 30 minutes while limiting the team to just 285 yards total offence.

Ranek's influence was also limited, with just 11 yards on seven carries after exploding for 164 in the first meeting back in July.

The Stamps QBs will continue getting the ink but the men on defence will decide whether this team returns to the playoffs.


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