Stamps scratching for every point

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:48 AM ET

REGINA - If Calgary Stampeders fans don’t like tension, they might want to quit watching their games this season.

The theme for 2011 is close, tight contests.

The good news for Stamps supporters is the team is figuring out how to win them.

In the dying minutes of Saturday’s 22-18 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Stamps came through with strong plays to seal it.

Holding a one-point lead, the Stamps defence forced a punt with five minutes left, but punter Eddie Johnson pinned the Stamps at their own 13-yard line.

The offence needed to come out, and Jon Cornish did just that, blasting through defenders for a 22-yard gain.

That started a long drive for a 45-yard Rene Paredes field-goal to pad the lead with four minutes remaining.

“At the end of the game, all three phases helped secure the win,” said Stamps head coach John Hufnagel. “Offensively, we needed to get the ball out of the shadows of our goal-post, and we got it out.

“The defence went on the field and forced the punt. Offence used the clock up well.”

All five Stampeders games this season have come down to the final minutes.

They lost on a last-second field-goal at home to the Toronto Argonauts in the season-opener.

The B.C. Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers missed long field-goals in Weeks 2 and 3 as the Stamps picked up victories.

In Week 4, the Stamps missed a late tying field-goal attempt and the Edmonton Eskimos kicked an insurance field goal of their own in a 24-19 victory.

The five Stampeders outings this season have been decided by a total of 14 points.

“Hopefully, we continue this momentum,” said Stamps QB Henry Burris, who went 24-of-36 passing for 255 yards with one interception. “This team is resilient. We’ve played with a lot of focus and poise. It’s been a rough go for us to start this season, but we’re not backing down.

“Right now, this team is continuing to build. We know the recipe for a team to win the big one. That’s what is happening right now.”

The Stamps certainly beat the Riders when it came to game management.

At the end of the first half, the Riders bungled a play to give the visitors and easy three points. Backed up to their own 12-yard line, the Riders couldn’t get a play off in time on second down and took a time-count violation.

They punted the ball away, but all Eddie Johnson could muster was a 31-yard punt, as Stampeders receiver Anthony Parker alertly picked it up standing among defenders and went down with one second left on the clock.

Paredes kicked a 45-yard field-goal as time expired, as the Stamps went into the locker-room with a five-point halftime lead.

Every single phase made plays in crunch-time, and that’s why the Stamps have second place in the CFL’s West Division.

“Every unit … it was go-time,” Cornish said. “Who knows how well we were playing previous to that?

“If we wanted to win, we had to get it done in tough times.”


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