Frankly, a major impact

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Arjei Franklin didn't need to be told he was a relative no-name around these parts.

What he did need to be told after the biggest game of his career was that his first touchdown as a Calgary Stampeder came while wearing a jersey with his name misspelled on the back.

"They did?" asked the 27-year-old Stamps receiver when told his No. 87 jersey excluded the L in Franklin.

"Frankin? That's embarrassing. I didn't know that. I'm going to have to talk to Geo (Stamps equipment manager George Hopkins) about that for sure. We'll fix that."

So caught up in trying to prepare the club's black third jerseys for just their second appearance of the year, Hopkins admittedly skipped the consonant. Shortly after Hopkins was told of his spelling mistake, the little-known Franklin had his first touchdown of the season -- a nine-yard grab that gave Calgary its first major of the game, opening up a 16-7 lead early in the third quarter. It was just his sixth catch of the year, making him the team's 13th-ranked receiver.

"We'll let him go back to what he should be next week," laughed Hopkins, who anointed Franklin's touchdown ball with 'FRANKIN 87' to commemorate the gaffe.

The only other Stamps touchdown in the host team's 24-21 west semifinal win over Edmonton yesterday came courtesy of Romby Bryant, who was traded here with Franklin Sept. 20.

It was his first touchdown, too, prompting Hopkins to adorn his special ball with 'FINALLY.'

"It was great to get my first touchdown, and it happens to be a playoff game," smiled Bryant, who set a CFL record this year for most receiving yards (780) without a score.

Bryant's time to shine came early in the first quarter of a three-point game, crossing over the middle to grab a 29-yard toss that was perhaps the best and hardest pass Burris has authored all year.

The irony was not lost on either player that in the biggest game of the year, the team's only two majors came from the least-known players on a star-studded receiving corps. It's not what either fathomed upon arriving as part of a nine-player swap two months ago: A trade that certainly looks good now.

"Whatta ya mean now?" deadpanned head coach John Hufnagel, whose club was repeatedly stymied in the red zone. "We always thought we made a good trade. Both have contributed to this football team. I stated earlier in the week, Arjei really hasn't been called on a lot but when he has, he's produced. He did that tonight."

On a day when Henry Burris was good enough to eke out a win and Joffrey Reynolds earned every one of the "M-V-P" chants he got throughout the second half, the two newcomers got in on the action when the team needed them most.

"When we got here, we were just trying to learn the offence," Franklin said when asked if he ever imagined the duo would combine to play prominent roles at any point this year. "I just wanted to come through when they gave me a shot."

He did. And because of it, he'll be able to take the inevitable ribbing in stride.

"Now that he got a TD maybe he'll get some respect around here and they'll get his name right," chuckled Nik Lewis after a minute of giggling.

"He scored a touchdown," added Jeremaine Copeland. "So I bet it's spelled right next week."

A good bet, indeed.

ERIC.FRANCIS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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