September 10, 2011
Mary comes through for Stampeders
By CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Sometimes it's better to be lucky than to be good.
On a less-than-memorable night of football, the Calgary Stampeders won on a play to remember.
Calgary quarterback Henry Burris set up a 30-20 Labour Day rematch win on a play that was as wacky as it was unexpected.
With time running down in the first half of a yawner and the Stamps hanging on to a 10-6 lead, Burris went to the Hail Mary.
The ball sailed 57 yards in the air.
Eskimos defender Chris Thompson got his hand on the ball.
It tipped up.
Calgary receiver Nik Lewis caught the ball and casually stepped four yards into the end zone and the Stamps never looked back.
"I just tried to put myself in a position to make a play," said Lewis. "Luckily, they bumped into each other, I guess and tipped the ball up and I made the play.
"The first thought was I couldn't get tackled at the four. I still had to get into the end zone and God was with me.
"Hank scrambled a bit and everybody went to the middle of the field. I just trailed and got in behind them. Sometimes, they go to bat it down and it goes through. I wanted to see if I could make a play from behind because I knew I couldn't get in front of them."
Lewis said there was no chance he'd go for the jump ball.
"No," said Lewis. "I don't outjump anybody when I just sprinted 60 yards. That's not what I do."
Calgary avoided a three-game seasonal sweep at the hands of the Eskimos and remain undefeated on the road.
It also meant Burris's sub-par performance at McMahon Stadium on Monday was just a blip in an otherwise outstanding season.
"Hey, you've got to take whatever you can get," said Burris, who threw his only other Hail Mary TD in 2008. "82 (Lewis) to me is the best in the business. You put the ball up and he'll find a way to make the play. When he makes the play, he never ceases to amaze you.
"We're lucky to have him on our team, Whether it's luck or a skillful play, hey, we'll take it. It's a Hail Mary, right? So, you're just hoping. You just throw it up and let Mary take it from there."
Helped by a couple of big plays, Burris threw for more than 300 yards (316) for the sixth time in the last seven games.
Even though he served up a second-half pick to Thompson, Burris put an exclamation mark on his performance on a scrambling 13-yard TD run with just over six minutes to go, putting the game out of reach.
"I came up on the bootleg," said Burris. "I cut back against the grain and it was green pasture after that."
"It was critical for us. We were more physical tonight and that's what wins the Labour Day Classic. Emdonton was more physical Monday. We came up here and showed our redemption."
Head coach John Hufnagel will take it.
"It was a very good win," said Hufnagel. "I enjoy every time we win because it's not easy to do in the Canadian Football League. "After last week, I was very pleased we improved in all phases, which we needed to do against a good football team. We managed to get it done."