Burris enjoys more success when he avoids long bomb

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

We know all about Hammerin' Hank, the home run slugger.

Last night we got a look at Henry Burris the contact hitter, laying down bunts and slapping singles through the infield.

The Calgary Stampeders quarterback, renowned for his cannon arm but sometimes questionable decisions, chipped away at the Saskatchewan Roughriders defence with a tact and guile we've rarely seen the last two seasons.

Burris completed 11 of 19 first-half passes for just 104 yards, but those modest gains included a five-yard touchdown pass to David Allen and a 14-yard toss to Nik Lewis.

Both were plays the offence had drilled home all week in practice, rehearsing for much-needed endzone success for a 23-7 win.

"We made a conscious effort in practice that there were certain plays we worked on that we were going to run those exact plays in the game," said Burris, who completed 21 of 33 passes for 255 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.

"When we got down there we didn't have penalties, didn't have turnovers, put the ball in the endzone ... we scored at the right time and gave us that momentum and when we get off to a good start we seem to play really well."

The longest pass was a modest 21-yarder to Markus Howell.

Burris never went to the long ball at all in the first half as the Stampeders pieced together a 16-3 lead with the pivot finding seven different targets.

"They were dropping (the DBs) deep so we just took what they gave us," Burris said.

"They were dropping back in Cover 4, four defensive backs deep over the top, which wasn't giving us much (long) so we just took the dump balls and made sure we were moving the sticks.

"If they had played a lot of man we would have taken more shots but they played a couple of snaps of man and we hit them on a couple then dropped back and played some deep zone."

Burris also showed enough common sense to scramble out of the pocket when unable to find an open man.

Burris's only serious miscues came once the outcome had been decided.

His two exceptions included a third-quarter gaffe when Burris telegraphed a pass intended for Jeremaine Copeland but was easily scooped by 'Riders DB Davin Bush.

Burris again threw to the endzone while leading 23-7 with less than two minutes remaining, hitting Roughies DB Rontarius Robinson in the hands with a pass intended for Ken-Yon Rambo.

"I want to get more efficient," Burris said.

"There were some errors on two interceptions. One Bush made a good play. Then the one at the end (of the game) I have to be a little quicker with it, get it to Rambo. But we had some communications problems we have to get better at."

The low-risk game plan wasn't exciting but effective and credit the Roughies secondary for forcing the issue with consistent coverage, Stamps head coach Tom Higgins said.

The win also ended a three-game losing skid that threatened to jeopardize the season had it continued.

The 4-4 Stampeders now find themselves alone in second in the CFL West, just two points behind the B.C. Lions.

"It was a solid fact and I love the fact we were so opportunistic," Higgins said.


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