Clark seizes spotlight

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Brian Clark took the Calgary Stampeders' goal of decisively winning the turnover battle into his own hands.

He also had a little luck on his side.

After forcing two first-half fumbles in the Stamps season-opening 24-14 victory Saturday over the Edmonton Eskimos, the linebacker then saw a lame-duck pass hurled into his zone late in the fourth quarter.

He dove for it but only managed to knock the ball down, making sure teammate Scott Coe didn't get hit in the chest with it.

On the next play, quarterback Ricky Ray tempted fate again and hit Clark with a bullet for an easy interception.

"Luckily he tried to throw it through me again and I didn't make a mistake on it," said Clark, who had a monster night with the pick, two forced fumbles, fumble recovery, two knockdowns and four tackles.

"It was a decent game. I'll take it. You don't get that many opportunities that many times. You pat yourself on the back for a couple of minutes but then move on.

"You are only as good as your next game so I have to come out next week and play better."

In the playoffs last season, the Stamps gifted the Eskimos the contest by fumbling six times.

But the Stamps defence felt it didn't do its part as Edmonton limited its major mistakes to zero.

A plus-six turnover rating for the Stamps Saturday gave them a strong chance to win with a game-winning touchdown strike from Henry Burris to Nik Lewis. Clark's pick ultimately sealed the victory.

"We were very conscientious of winning the turnover battle," said Stamps head coach Tom Higgins.

"We were a plus-six instead of the last time we played them when we were a minus-six.

"Your chances of winning are much greater when you are a plus-six. There are plenty of mistakes we made that are correctable."

The only turnover the Stamps committed was a Gerald Dixon interception off Burris while the Stamps were in the red zone.

Edmonton won most of the statistical categories, piling up 399 yards total offence and holding the ball for 31 minutes 47 seconds.

But the Eskimos bobbled two punt snaps and fumbled three times, giving the Stamps good field position in each case.

Although Ray managed to move the Esks up and down the field, the Stamps defence will take the win and make some adjustments for the rematch Saturday in Edmonton.

Calgary was content to cover well downfield and allow the short dumpoff plays to running backs Troy Davis and Mathieu Bertrand.

"That was what they did to us last time but this time we got the turnovers," Clark said. "We don't think they can beat us throwing the short passes all the way down the field.

"We say bend but don't break yet we made lots of mistakes for them to get those yards."

"It was good we got out with a win, so now we can correct our mistakes and try and sweep them."

EXTRA POINTS: Stamps RB David Allen stretched some knee ligaments after getting hit on a third-quarter punt return by teammate John Grace. He is expected to miss two weeks and the Stamps could activate rookie backup Wes Cates to take his place.


Photos