Mane test on deck for Stamps

Romby Bryant and the Stamps get set to take on the stiff Lions defence. (Darren Makowichuk/QMI...

Romby Bryant and the Stamps get set to take on the stiff Lions defence. (Darren Makowichuk/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

When a Hail Mary is your defining play in a victory, it can make you a look a little desperate.

Sure, you may have put up 30 points, but what would have happened had you not completed the buzzer-beating TD before halftime?

Fortunately for the Calgary Stampeders offence, they don’t need to answer that question.

As the Stamps get ready to face a defence that hasn’t allowed a touchdown in

13 quarters and is riding a three-game win streak, Red & White offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson is feeling pretty good about where his group is headed.

“We have been playing well, but we had that big hiccup in Labour Day,” Dickenson said. “Over the past five or so games, we’ve been playing well. There a few things that still needs to happen. It was a great win for us (in Edmonton). If we wanted to finish where we are at in the West, we needed to win that game, and we did.”

The Stamps took back first place in the CFL West Division with that 30-20 victory, and they got back into second spot in total offence doing it.

It certainly helped that Nik Lewis scored on a 62-yard Hail Mary bomb to end the first half.

But now the Stamps catch the B.C. Lions at a bad time. The Lions, winners of three straight games and four of five, have become completely stingy on defence.

While the members of Swaggerville get a lot of publicity for their pressure on quarterbacks, the Lions are no slouches either. With 31 QB sacks, the West Coast defence is just three behind the league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

After that stumble on Labour Day, the Stamps did tinker with their offensive line to fix the protection. Import Edwin Harrison came off the nine-game injured list and started at left tackle against the host Edmonton Eskimos.

There was also a surprise move at centre, as Jon Gott took over the starting reins from Tim O’Neill. The offence responded with an output of 498 totals yards and just two sacks allowed.

“The offensive line played better, not just because Jon was in there,” said Stamps head coach John Hufnagel. “Jon played well. We need to do a better job as an offensive line and everyone being on the same page.

“We weren’t communicating as well as I would have liked at the line of scrimmage. I thought we needed to make a change based solely on communication.”

Hufnagel’s Stamps owned the Lions from 2008 to the midway point last season, beating them eight straight times in the regular season.

But the Lions stunned the Stamps twice at McMahon Stadium last season. They won’t be underestimated this time.

“Personally, I was surprised they got off to the start they did,” Hufnagel said of the Lions’ 0-5 record to begin the campaign. “I hold their football team in high esteem. They are playing very, very well right now. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

The Stamps did settle for six field-goal attempts in Edmonton, and punching the ball into the endzone will be a focus going forward.

However, they were moving the ball, thanks in large part to a rejuvenated running attack that also included quarterback Henry Burris getting rolling as well. He scored on a 17-yard scramble for a key second-half TD.

“That was big,” Burris said. “Going into that game, Huf and Dave gave me some of their insights on the approach to the game.

“They both told me to use my feet a lot more. You try to come into certain games and try to get the ball out quick. That’s what I tried to do.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @ianbusby57


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