Ball safety No. 1's priority

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Of all the positives emanating from the Calgary Stampeders win Saturday, the most crucial could be the confidence that Henry Burris actually can carry this team to victories.

But when the much-analysed quarterback took off running in a 34-32 win over the Edmonton Eskimos, he was holding the ball much differently than before.

Gone is the one-handed technique that caused so much frustration in the past. Yet Burris was also tucking the rock tightly the way a fullback would as soon as he crossed the line of scrimmage.

This development, a week after Burris fumbled twice against the B.C. Lions in a loss at home, was certainly no accident.

"There were a couple of drills that were done last week with ball security," said Stamps head coach Tom Higgins.

"That could be the reason it could have looked a bit different. It's obviously a big concern for us that he hands the ball to the official at the end of a running play.

"But Henry had it in his mind he wasn't going to let anyone take it from him."

Not only did Burris avoid turnovers against Edmonton, he was brilliant moving the team, especially in a nine-play, 49-yard drive to set up the game-winning field goal by Sandro DeAngelis.

With Burris at the controls, several members of the offence were able to have strong performances.

Nik Lewis had the catch of the year on a diving 39-yard leap but was a go-to target twice on the game-winning drive as well.

Receiver Brett Ralph caught seven passes for 68 yards and a touchdown with his only blemish being a first-half fumble.

On defence, the Stamps did allow some long gains by Eskimos running backs Tyler Ebell and Ron McClendon, but they were able to shut down the Eskimos when all the home side needed were two-and-a-half yards in the final minutes.

The goal-line stand was especially impressive when you consider both starting defensive lineman Keron Williams and Anthony Gargiulo had left the game long before that.

Backups Randy Chevrier and Tearrius George stepped in to do a tremendous job considering there was hardly any relief.

Chevrier, the snapper on the winning field goal, recorded the tackle on Stefan LeFors on the first goal-line plunge, while Brandon Browner dropped the Eskimos for a loss on the second try.

"It was big because the of guys who came in and performed the way they did," Higgins said.

"It was a crucial turning point because we only need to get close enough for a field goal.

"That's was really nice to see.

"This was a gutsy performance and a tough 60 minutes of football but we believed it could happen.

"That was the CFL at its finest because it's never over until it's over. It's nice to be on the smiling end of a last-second game-winning play."

While the players got to bask in the victory with a day off yesterday, the coaches didn't go home after the game, instead heading back to McMahon Stadium to start putting together the game plan for the Alouettes Thursday in Montreal.

With a short week, the Stamps only get two practices at home before heading off on another road trip.

Gargiulo is out with an ankle sprain while Williams is iffy with a groin pull.

That may mean Chevrier and George will be pressed into more action, and more roster moves may need to be done because of the injuries.

But the Stamps get to travel East knowing they have broken a string of six straight road losses.

"That's really nice," Higgins said. "Thanks for pointing that out."


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