McMahon ice melts

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

Calgary Stampeders fans, get your winter parkas, gloves and boots out. CFL playoff action is returning to McMahon Stadium for the first time in four years.

And while it may be cold outside, your team is hot.

The Stamps have won seven of their last eight games after beating the Edmonton Eskimos 43-23 yesterday in front of 31,017 spectators at McMahon.

"Who knew what would happen this year and now we're 11-7 hosting a playoff game," said offensive lineman Jay McNeil.

"I couldn't be more proud of this team even when we were back in our heyday.

"We are controlling our own destiny and it's a great feeling."

The same Eskimos team that was dominated yesterday returns next Sunday (4 p.m.) but will need to make some changes if they hope to avoid a repeat of yesterday's disaster.

The Stamps played to their potential in all three phases of the game, getting five offensive touchdowns, an interception score by Jermaine Chatman and solid special teams coverages on dynamic returner Tony Tompkins.

Quarterback Henry Burris continued his hot hand, going 14-of-24 passing for 311 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Burris also ran in a score from two yards out and hit Nik Lewis (20), MarTay Jenkins (50) and Brett Ralph (22) with TD passes.

"As we grow and play a little more together, we will grow as a team," said Burris. "We have so many weapons out there. Everybody is making plays."

Against the stingiest run defence in the league, the Stamps stomped along for 132 yards and controlled the line of scrimmage.

Running back Joffrey Reynolds had a 14-yard TD and 58 yards total, while backup David Allen contributed another 36 on just four carries.

"To sustain a running game against these guys is amazing," Burris said. "The guys up front did a great job. You have to tip your hats off to these guys up front because it brings quite a balance to our offence."

The only blemish for the Stamps offence was a fumble on a pitchout from Burris to Reynolds. But the Stamps defence forced an interception on the Eskimos' next drive to negate the momentum.

Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray went 24-of-40 passing for 228 yards but threw three interceptions -- to Chatman, Joey Boese and Trey Young -- with no touchdowns.

Backup Jason Maas made his first appearance of the season and threw a late TD strike to Jason Tucker, while Troy Davis and Ray had rushing scores earlier in the game for the Eskimos scoring.

For Stamps head coach Tom Higgins, there couldn't have been a more complete team effort in beating the team he used to coach.

"A lot of things fell into place for this to happen," Higgins said. "This is going to be a lot of fun. There's a lot of people with a new experience to go into the playoffs. This is sudden death now."

The Stamps did the B.C. Lions a favour. Wally Buono's club backs into the playoffs as West Division champion after a loss Saturday to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Lions will host the West final in two weeks and the Grey Cup will be in Vancouver the following week.


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