'Mandatory win' for Stamps

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Game 8 holds a lot of weight for the Calgary Stampeders.

Lose and they drop to 3-5 heading into a bye week, then get ready for the Labour Day Classic against Edmonton, while sitting last in the division with plenty of question marks looming.

Win and get back to .500, one game out of second place and seven days off to let confidence build before the next practice.

So, the second meeting this season with the B.C. Lions at McMahon Stadium (8 p.m., TSN, subject to blackout) in less than a month gives the Stamps a chance to avenge the earlier defeat and, perhaps more importantly, put them on the right track for the second half.

"Truthfully, this game is a major step," said receiver Jeremaine Copeland. "It would put us up there with a chance to still finish first place in the division.

"Being 4-4 into the bye week with two games against Edmonton, this should be a mandatory win. If we do happen to lose, I won't say we're going to, I'm pretty sure the tension will be up.

"You won't be sure what changes will be made. You have to take care of what you can take care. But there's a sense of urgency in this locker-room."

When the Stamps lost to the Lions three weeks ago, it was because they turned the ball over too often. Quarterback Henry Burris was the biggest offender, throwing two interceptions and coughing up two fumbles.

In the past two road games, the Stamps turned the ball over just once, but still managed only a single victory. The problem last week against Montreal was trouble punching the ball in from inside the five and taking eight offside or procedure penalties.

They haven't played to their potential, but Burris doesn't let the notion of losing tonight enter his mind because he believes the offence can get it right.

"I can't even fathom the thought of being 3-5," Burris said. "This team has too much talent and too many opportunities to be in that situation. This is a must-win."

The Lions aren't exactly going to roll over for the Stamps. They feel they need to break a two-game losing streak, both at home, before heading into their bye week.

"We approach every game as a must-win," said Lions linebacker Javy Glatt. "We never step on the field to lose. This is the most important game in our world right now. Especially going into the bye, you want to feel good about yourself."

When the Lions were last in McMahon Stadium, they were undefeated and flying high. Quarterback Buck Pierce left that game with nagging injuries and Jarious Jackson guided the Lions to a win.

Pierce missed the next game, B.C.'s first loss of the season, before returning last week and being largely ineffective against Winnipeg. Pierce gets the start again tonight.

Much of the talk around Calgary this week was the lack of carries Joffrey Reynolds got in Montreal last week.

In four touches, Reynolds managed 20 yards, far off his normal production. There is no question Reynolds wants the ball, but even he agrees a win is more important tonight than more chances for him to run the ball.

"I'm really appreciative that people want to see me carry the ball, but more than anything, people want to see us win and put in a better effort," Reynolds said.


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