EDMONTON - Nik Lewis is more bulldozer than ballerina, but the Calgary Stampeders slotback sure seemed sneaky on this play.
With zeroes on the clock and nothing but field goals and punt singles on the stat-sheet as the first half of Friday’s Labour Day Replay came to a close at Commonwealth Stadium, the broad-shouldered Lewis tip-toed behind a crowd of Hail Mary hopefuls and had a gift fall right into his hands.
Edmonton Eskimos defensive halfback Chris Thompson got a couple of fingers on Henry Burris’ long bomb but tipped the pigskin to the opportunistic Lewis, who sidestepped the only would-be tackler and waltzed into the endzone for a 62-yard score.
Suddenly, somebody had seven points in what had become a field-goal fest and would end as a 30-20 victory for the Stamps.
The 45,672 fans in Commonwealth Stadium — at least, the ones not already in the lineup for beer or bathroom stalls — gasped.
And stuck back home in Calgary with a sore knee, injured middle linebacker Juwan Simpson posted on Twitter, “Ill take it!!!! #BigPlay.”
The rest of the Stamps will take it, too.
On a night that featured more boots than hoots, Lewis’ touchdown — his fourth of the season — was the obvious turning point.With Friday’s victory over the Eskimos, the Stamps (7-3) rebound from a deflating defeat on Labour Day and regain sole possession of top spot in the CFL’s West Division standings.
The Eskimos (6-4) are not far behind and own the tiebreaker after winning the season series with two straight triumphs at McMahon Stadium.
Everybody talks about the physical toll of playing twice in a five-day span, and Stamps kicker Rene Paredes might’ve needed an ice-pack for his right foot after the first half of Friday’s clash.
The even-keeled rookie was called upon four times before the break, acing assignments from 24, 39 and 46 yards out.
He also missed a 44-yard attempt just before halftime but added an 11-yard chip-shot in the third quarter and a late 22-yarder that clinched the victory.
Eskimos kicker Derek Schiavone was 4-of-5 on field goals attempts, while Damon Duval missed once.
Backup quarterback Kerry Joseph scored Edmonton’s only major on a one-yard dash in the fourth quarter.
Stamps running back Joffrey Reynolds will be sore a bit on Saturday morning, a welcome feeling after seeing limited rushing attempts in the past two weeks.
Reynolds finished with
80 yards on 14 carries.
And Edmonton’s Ricky Ray will have some bumps and bruises after Calgary’s quarterback-hunters found a few holes in the Eskimos offensive line. Kevin Dixon, Charleston Hughes and Robert McCune all registered sacks for the Red & White.
Burris will also have some turf stains on his jersey getting steamrolled by Eskimos defensive end Marcus Howard — the same guy that blindsided him on Labour Day — early in the second quarter.
The Stamps signal-caller was lying on his back again after the final snap of the first half, but he bounced back to his feet after realizing Lewis had somehow found the endzone.
Burris finished 16-of-30 for 316 yards, plus deked a couple of defenders for a 13-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that chased a few pessimists from the stands at Commonwealth Stadium.
He was also intercepted once but racked up 47 yards on five rushing attempts.