Riders play takeaway

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

They literally ripped a win from the Edmonton Eskimos’ hands last weekend, and the Calgary Stampeders promise it won’t happen to them.

Twice, the Eskimos were within scoring range against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina, and both times the defence pulled the ball out of their hands.

First, it happened to running back Calvin McCarty, as Sean Lucas ripped it out.

Then, the dominating Fred Stamps was stripped of the ball by linebacker Tad Kornegay after a 42-yard gain.

The Riders survived for a 24-20 comeback victory despite not controlling the ball the way the Eskimos did.

The Stamps aren’t going to let what happened to Stamps rob them of a victory Saturday night at McMahon Stadium (7:30 p.m., TSN).

“For us, especially in the fourth quarter, you have to be conscious of the situation and not let an extra two or three yards you are fighting for cost you possession of the ball,” said Stampeders running back Joffrey Reynolds.

“At that point in the game, two or three yards is something you can pass on.

“They’ve been doing it for a long time. Their motto is to play until the whistle. If you don’t, you will find yourself in a situation like Edmonton last week.”

Some may look at the stats and say that Stampeders and McCarty let the game get away from them.

Those who saw it have to admit the Riders took the ball without any help from the other side.

“You keep fighting,” Lucas said. “As long as we keep battling the whole game, you never know what is going to happen. They see you trying to pull the ball away, but you have to be stronger than them.

“There’s really no magic to it. When you get an opportunity to take the ball away, you have to do it. As long as our offence has the ball, we’re good.”

The Stamps gave away a game in Toronto last week by turning the ball over five times, including three times in the fourth quarter as they were still in contention.

Oddly enough, the Stamps actually lead the CFL with 11 takeaways this season, but they are tied with the Eskimos at 11 giveaways, so they aren’t coming out ahead.

Stripping the ball-carrier is nothing new to the Riders defence under co-ordinator Gary Etcheverry.

Last season, the Riders had a league-leading 25 take-aways on fumbles. It’s no accident, because they are relentless about it.

“Coach Etch tells us the ball is the object,” Kornegay said. “Our objective is to get it out. Do whatever it takes to do that. We work on it all week during practice.”

There is no question the Stamps are on alert about what the Riders defence will try to do.

“Every team goes for the ball but they reap what they sow,” said Stamps quarterback Henry Burris.

“The fact they put in the hard work and you can tell they preach it day after day — they go after it hard.

“The more times they can get Darian Durant and his group onto the field, the more points they can get.

“Both offences can score points with the right opportunities, so we don’t need to give them extra opportunities.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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