Running untouched down the sidelines yesterday, Ryan Thelwell put his faith in the unproven science of telekinesis.
Think positive thoughts, you know.
The Calgary Stampeders receiver was already having his best game of the season when the chance to cap it off came in the third quarter of the 35-24 win over the Edmonton Eskimos yesterday.
Left uncovered and wide open due to a glaring miscue by Chris Thompson, Thelwell hoped quarterback Henry Burris would see him 10 yards clear and fire the long bomb.
"I took a peek and right away I thought, 'Oh Hank, you'd better throw me the ball because he jumped down on (Jeremaine) Copeland.' Hank did a good job."
That "good job" resulted in a 57-yard touchdown strike, Thelwell's second of the game, and capped off the greatest game of his CFL career.
When the final gun sounded, Thelwell had hauled in seven receptions for 199 yards -- by far a career high -- and two touchdowns.
"This is my first Classic, and I'm so excited to be a part of it," said Thelwell with a big grin.
When Thelwell signed with the Stamps this off-season, he hoped he'd be an impact player. A non-import receiver who can contribute 800 or more yards -- as he did three years in a row with the B.C. Lions -- is a valuable commodity.
Thelwell hadn't delivered as expected so far this season.
His performance yesterday was the seventh most receiving yards in a game in franchise history. He also smashed Allen Pitts' old Labour Day Classic record of 165 receiving yards.
Heading into Labour Day, the 34-year-old in his seventh CFL season had only 14 receptions for 172 yards and no touchdowns.
"He was saving it for Labour Day," said Stamps head coach Tom Higgins. "He said, it's in his contract -- he only performs when it's a sell-out.
"His number was called and it was really nice to see him get some receptions and numbers and touchdowns."
Burris had a good feeling about Thelwell before the game started.
"I told him beforehand he was going to have a great game today," Burris said. "I could feel it in my veins. He's been on the verge of a breakout for a while now. It was great for him to do it on this big stage.
"Once he got the flow going, it was hard for them to stop him."
When he crossed the goal line for his second touchdown of the game, Thelwell handed the ball to offensive lineman Bobby Singh to spike, but it ended up going into the stands as a souvenir.
Singh was more concerned about offering his congratulations to the receiver he also teamed up with in B.C., knowing how much it meant to have that breakout game.
"That's how he plays normally," Singh said. "He just needed the rock and he and Ken-Yon (Rambo) stepped up big time. If it ain't Nik (Lewis) and ain't Cope, those guys will step up."
It could have been an even bigger game for Thelwell. A 19-yard reception was called back due to a penalty, and it took a miraculous desperation tackle by Esks' Jason Goss in the fourth quarter to prevent another long touchdown.
Suddenly, all the personal disappointment of the first seven games are gone.
"It's been tough," Thelwell said. "I know it hasn't been the best of starts, but it's a long season, and it just takes one game to break out of a slump. It was just a matter of being positive.
"The receivers did a good job of staying as a unit. They could have jumped on my back and got on me, but they didn't. It was a supportive group."
And just think, one more step with the ball and Thelwell would have posted a 200-yard game.
"I'm just happy we won. It's a West opponent, and we were tied in the standings."