Stamps foul up semifinal

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

REGINA -- It's become the recurring theme of this Calgary Stampeders regime.

Sloppy play with turnovers and penalties stifling chances to win in the CFL playoffs.

And it just may be the last game for head coach Tom Higgins and several other players and coaches.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders won a home playoff game for the first time since 1976, beating the Stampeders 26-24 at Mosaic Stadium yesterday in the West semifinal.

The Riders now travel to face the B.C. Lions in the West final next Sunday.

This is the third straight year the Stamps have lost the West semi, although this was closer than the last two games.

Henry Burris hit Ken-Yon Rambo with 16-yard touchdown pass with a minute left, but an onside kick attempt failed, and the Riders won it.

"It's not three years in a row. It's one year at a time," said Burris, who fumbled once, threw an interception and couldn't convert a third-down plunge for three of the four Stamps turnovers. "This is a different team than in the past. We had a chance to win tonight, but we gave it away.

"I didn't play the way I wanted to early on. I wish I could have been better. We made some plays but just didn't make enough."

With a capacity of 28,800 going wild, Kerry Joseph hit D.J. Flick with a 54-yard touchdown pass on the home side's first offensive play.

Flick sprinted down the sidelines past pumped-up Riders president Jim Hopson and GM Eric Tillman, who were obviously basking in the glow of the team's first home playoff game since 1988.

Burris fumbled on his second play, and the Riders kicked a field goal to open up a 10-0 lead before the game was three minutes old.

"That was a great way to get started and to get the momentum on our side," said Joseph, who was outstanding going 23-of-35 for 391 yards and also running for 109 yards.

The Riders were primed to put the Stampeders away late in the first half, but the tide turned as quickly as you can say Andy Fantuz.

A would-be touchdown pass bounced off Fantuz's hands and straight into the arms of Dwaine Carpenter, who sprinted down to about the Riders 40-yard line before handing off to Trey Young to take it the rest of the way.

With Young's TD, a play that totalled 113 yards, the Stamps earned themselves a 14-point swing and put them right back into the game.

Coming out of halftime down 19-7, a change from the past two playoff disappointments, Burris was able to connect with Rambo on a 54-yard TD and Marc Calixte blocked a Jamie Boreham punt as the Stamps cut the lead to five.

But the Riders kept chipping away, as Luca Congi kicked six field goals and had a single to keep the Riders ahead with Joseph executing clock-killing drives when he needed them.

"They have an outstanding quarterback, and he truly deserves to be the MVP of the West Division," Higgins said. "Whether he makes it or not as the CFL MVP, it doesn't matter because he's the man.

"When we had to stop him, we couldn't do it."

Sandro DeAngelis was good on his only field-goal attempt from 18 yards out after the blocked punt.

Burris finished 20-of-36 passing for 323 yards.


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