Sharp as a dull knife

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

The calgary Stampeders offence could have used a good jolt of the lightning that ripped through the sky over McMahon Stadium last night.

After a storm delayed the CFL season-opener against the Edmonton Eskimos, the Stamps plodded onto the field without a spark.

The vaunted attack that lit up the league late last year couldn't have looked more lifeless, at least until the final two minutes in a 24-14 win.

Down 14-10 with five minutes remaining, Stampeders QB Henry Burris orchestrated a 10-play, 95-yard scoring drive, capped by a 33-yard TD toss to Nik Lewis.

"It was one thing or another," said Burris, whose lacklustre performance included just 18 competitions on 33 passes for 198 yards, two TDs and one pick.

"I had a freakin' interception -- something I didn't want to do all year. Now it's happened early and I've learned my lesson."

Scrimmaging at Edmonton's 13-yard-line, Eskimos defensive back Gerald Dixon picked off a Burris pass he foolishly tried to force to Ken-Yon Rambo. Running back Joffrey Reynolds, meanwhile, was wide open on the other side of the field.

Stamps head coach Tom Higgins reasoned his star pivot sometimes appears to have too much raw talent for his own good

"He's blessed because he does have a strong arm," said Higgins, adding he never contemplated pulling his starter in favour of backup Danny McManus.

"(Burris) does have the ability to improve, the ability to make plays, and we have playmakers for receivers. But we struggled. We thought we could put more points on the board but give (Edmonton) credit. They did what they needed to do."

With six minutes remaining, Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray had pieced together a five-play, 71-yard touchdown drive for a four-point lead. He completed all four of his passes, including a seven-yard TD to Mathieu Bertrand, while completing 33 of 44 passes for 393 yards, two TDs and one pick.

The Stampeders offence stalled five times for two-and-outs in the first three quarters and managed only 135 yards in the first half. That included Burris's meagre 75 yards passing while butchering two first-quarter turnovers by the Eskimos to earn just four points.

Eskimos punter Rodney Williams' bobbled the snap at his own three-yard-line on Edmonton's opening drive, the night's first gift.

Two plays later, Stampeders placekicker Sandro DeAngelis settled for an 11-yard field goal.

Eskimos running back Troy Davis fumbled on the next series at his own 44, recovered by halfback Jermaine Chatman.

A Calgary holding penalty and two short passes later, DeAngelis was again forced into action, this time booting a 17-yarder.

Mookie Mitchell's 12-yard TD catch with one minute remaining in the first half was the Eskimos lone score in the opening 30 minutes.

Mitchell darted past Chatman to enter the endzone wide open before hauling in a Ray pass.

The convert was blocked.

The Esks' Williams had another snap sail over his head late in the third, with the Stamps again settling for a 35-yard DeAngelis field goal.

Reynolds added a little life, blasting through defenders for a 53-yarder in the third quarter while piling up 153 yards on 13 carries.

"The first half we had to find our rhythm," Reynolds said.

"Our offensive line ... what can I say? They got on their guys. (Edmonton) tried a lot of twists and stunts to stop the run."

Burris finished the night with a 16-yard TD pass to Jeremaine Copeland, completing the Stamps' great escape.

DeAngelis was good on three of four field-goal attempts and also kicked a 50-yard single.


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