Hanky spanky

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Counting down the final ticks of the first half while sprinting towards the sideline, Henry Burris made a split-second decision that was as much a threat to the Eskimos playoff hopes as it was to his health.

Instead of running out of bounds to ensure a last-second field goal, Burris rounded the corner, cut towards the goal- line and hurled himself up and over the shoulders of Malcolm Frank. Landing head first in the endzone with one-second left, he sprung to his feet to celebrate the eventual game-winning score.

That is, until he realized he couldn't breathe.

"He knocked the wind out of me," laughed the Stamps quarterback, recounting yesterday's 44-23 Labour Day victory in which his feet outshone his arm.

"I had a similar scenario in college and, once I got outside, I thought I'd plant back and see if I've still 'got it' like I used to. I got up pretty high -- I surprised myself and got a 29-inch vertical on that play. After that, I was tired the rest of the day but I was glad to get it in. That was a big momentum swing for us."

While Burris was in the process of losing his breath, everyone else on his club was busy holding theirs, as all future plans hung in the balance of his gymnastics.

"All I could think of was, 'Don't get hurt,' because he's the one who's going to lead us," admitted receiver Jeremaine Copeland. "We don't want him to have to dive too much but it was great to see the effort -- it got everybody fired up."

It got 35,000 on their feet, too, as part of a running clinic that saw Burris scamper eight times for 88 yards, a touchdown and six first downs all by himself.

Not bad for a guy who doesn't like to run.

"Growing up, I've never been a runner. I was always taught that's my last option and that's the way I go through my progression every time," said Burris, ranked ninth in CFL rushing with a league-leading 7.6 yards per carry.

"Then again, if they're running stunts that open up lanes and give me a chance to move the chains, the coaches always give me the green light to run."

Setting a tone for the afternoon with an 18-yard scramble on the opening play, Burris used his speed, smarts, play-action and a set of head and pump fakes to elude would-be tacklers while Edmonton pivot Ricky Ray saw more hits than YouTube.com.

"That's what he does," said an amazingly resilient Ray. "He did some amazing things just to get out of the pocket and when he's out of it, he's pretty dangerous."

Although Burris threw one pick and was stripped of the ball while scrambling in the third quarter, his patience and poise saw him complete 16 of 25 passes for 310 yards and a major, while avoiding unnecessarily dangerous throws.

"He's running and sliding and getting out of bounds when he needs to and not taking a lot of hits," said Stampeders head coach Tom Higgins, comfortable with Burris' scampers.

While Burris laughed off suggestions he may pose a threat to Joffrey Reynolds' rushing title, the quiet running back made an interesting revelation.

"He's been out there on the ladder trying to work on his footwork and it looks like it's paying off for him," said Reynolds, who had two TDs and 96 yards rushing.

"I'll leave that stuff to Joffrey," chuckled Burris.

"I just want to sit back in the pocket ... I don't want to get the wind knocked out of me again."

Too bad, as another effort like that Friday might knock the Esks out of the playoff picture.


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