Stampeders defence unloads on Argos

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:55 PM ET

You could forgive Henry Burris if he overslept and missed Friday’s early-afternoon rundown.

Thanks to a relentless defensive effort from his team, the Calgary Stampeders signal-caller hardly had a chance to catch his breath during Thursday’s 30-16 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.

With the defence generating four turnovers and forcing several two-and-outs, Burris and his buddies were on the field for more than 42 minutes, enough time to generate 500 yards of total offence.

“I’m glad that they’re on my side,” Burris said with a grin, “

It seemed like the offence was always on the field, but it was the Stampeders’ defensive unit that stole the show in the season-opener.

It started just moments after the Argos offence hit the field, with linebacker Malik Jackson knocking down a pass and defensive end Mike Labinjo bursting through the offensive line.

Midway through the second quarter, strong-side linebacker Keon Raymond weaseled in front of slotback Andre Durie and made an acrobatic interception.

For Argonauts gunslinger Cleo Lemon, things only got worse after halftime.

He hooked up with receiver Chad Owens, who was scrapping for a couple of extra yards when Stamps cornerback Dwight Anderson arrived. With a move that would make most wrestlers jealous, Anderson hog-tied Owens and tossed the speedy receiver into defensive end Charleston Hughes, knocking the ball loose. Anderson recovered the fumble to complete the play.

With the Stamps forced to settle for three-point tries, the Argos trailed by only four points early in the final quarter. The defence, though, gave Smilin’ Hank yet another opportunity to increase the lead, with Jackson stripping the ball from former teammate Jeremaine Copeland, then watching linebacker Juwan Simpson pounce on the pigskin.

Simpson inflicted more pain a few minutes later, steamrolling Lemon as the Argos pivot tried to unload a pass.

At that point, you couldn’t have blamed the longtime NFLer for making a beeline for the border.

He didn’t. And he paid the price.

With less a minute remaining, safety Wes Lysack put an exclamation point on the impressive defensive effort, blindsiding the Argos freshman with a jaw-rattling sack. Jackson scooped up the loose ball and rumbled into the endzone, providing an unofficial intro to the post-game Canada Day fireworks show.

“We always want to create havoc — that’s how we word it,” Lysack said. “We want to make sure we’re flying around full-speed to the ball, and the plays will come from there, whether it be forced fumbles, interceptions, hurting the quarterback, anything we can do like that.”

On Thursday night, it was all of the above.

The Stamps surrendered just 246 yards of total offence, registered an interception, gobbled up three fumbles and celebrated three quarterback sacks.

And if anybody was counting jaw-rattling collisions, they might’ve lost track.

“You now what, man? We pride ourselves on our defence,” Raymond said. “We know that if we want to be contenders in this league, we have to be able to step up on defence and create turnovers and give our offence more opportunities, so that’s a big focus — get that football.”

And give it back to Hank.

“That’s how you like it,” Burris said. “We want to be out there as an offence, keeping their defence on the field.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos