Riders stomp Stamps

Stampeders' Rob Lazeo and Roughriders' Scott Schultz have some words during first half action in...

Stampeders' Rob Lazeo and Roughriders' Scott Schultz have some words during first half action in Calgary on Thanksgiving Day. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Transplanted Riders fans left McMahon Stadium happy yesterday, but the result means they won't get to see their team in person in Calgary again this season.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Stampeders 33-21 to move five points ahead of Calgary in the CFL's West Division standings.

Unless the Stamps (6-7-1) win their remaining four games and the Roughriders go 1-3 in the final month of the CFL season, this will end a home playoff drought for Gang Green that has lasted since 1988.

And, after the performance from the Stampeders offence yesterday -- a dreadful two first-half first downs -- Calgary will need an amazing return to health from Henry Burris to pull off such a run.

"If you look at the schedule, ours is a lot different from theirs'," said Stamps head coach Tom Higgins. "We have four games and pretty good opponents. We will be fighting tooth-and-nail to get our victories in the stretch run."

The Stamps have a home-and-home with the East Division-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers, host the Montreal Alouettes and travel to B.C. to close the season.

The Riders have a home-and-home with the 2-12 Hamilton Tiger-Cats, go into Edmonton to play the banged-up Eskimos and are home to the Toronto Argonauts.

In replacing Burris for the second straight week, Akili Smith struggled yesterday, going 4-of-12 passing for 42 yards in a first half in which the Stampeders points came off a 96-yard punt-return TD by Markus Howell.

On the other side, Roughriders quarterback Kerry Joseph ran in a five-yard TD and put his club in position for five Luca Congi field-goals in building a 22-7 lead.

Smith was replaced by recent returnee Ben Sankey at halftime.

"Man, procedure penalties, four batted balls, and I missed a couple of open receivers," Smith said. "We just couldn't get it together on offence, so it's easy to bench the quarterback and go with another player. Sankey did a nice job, though."

At the end of the first half, the Stamps inexplicably tried a fake punt in their own zone with less than a minute left.

Rob Cote took the direct snap, but was quickly gang-tackled, giving the Riders field position to kick a field-goal.

There seemed to be confusion on the play, as Calgary called a timeout after seeing the Riders formation but still tried the play anyway.

"We really needed something desperately to give us any kind of spark," Higgins said.

"We were doing anything to provide that.

"We were going to run it again in the second half. It was there, but you have to execute it."

When Sankey took over, he provided the spark they were looking for, completing four straight passes and hitting Nik Lewis with a 30-yard TD.

He was picked off on the next possession.

"For a guy who's only been here 10 days, he did a heck of a job," said running back Joffrey Reynolds, who was a forgotten man in the offence (42 yards) as Calgary tried throwing its way back into it.

"We still have a lot of football in front of us, but this is a missed opportunity. In the first half, we didn't help the defence out at all.

"Had we made a couple of plays, it would have been a better outing for us. It was two-and-out, two-and- out."


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