Stamps D stands tall in win

Alouettes slotback Jamel Richardson is chased by Stampeders defensive lineman Robert McCune in...

Alouettes slotback Jamel Richardson is chased by Stampeders defensive lineman Robert McCune in Montreal, Que., Oct. 30, 2011. (OLIVIER JEAN/Reuters)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:30 PM ET

CALGARY - Indeed, the victory was a big one.

The way it was won — with the Calgary Stampeders’ defence making a crucial stop in the final seconds — might have been even bigger.

After a couple of late collapses earlier this month, the Stamps refused to surrender another last-minute score in Sunday’s 32-27 CFL triumph over the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Percival Stadium.

“The last couple of losses, we were losing by one or two points on last-minute field goals,” said Stamps cornerback Johnnie Dixon. “Right now, to really come and just close one game out and come out with more than a three-point win, that’s pretty good. It feels real good.

“If not winning, then what are you here for? So when you win, that builds confidence and motivation. That motivates you to go out and do it again and again.”

It just as easily could’ve been another case of ‘Oh no, not again’ for the Stamps’ defensive unit.

With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer Anthony Calvillo tossed a 31-yard touchdown strike to slotback Eric Deslauriers to trim the Stamps’ lead to 27-25.

The Alouettes tried a two-point conversion, but Stamps defensive tackle DeVone Claybrooks stretched out to trip up Calvillo as he scrambled towards the goal-stripe.

Then, with 10 ticks left on the game-clock and the Alouettes once again threatening to cap the spirited comeback, Dixon deflected a would-be touchdown pass away from S.J. Green to seal the victory.

The Stamps surrendered 538 yards of net offence to the CFL’s highest-scoring squad but only allowed three offensive touchdowns. They stopped the Alouettes on three third-down gambles, including two in the redzone.

“Our defence made huge stops, and I think that’s what won it,” said Stamps running back Jon Cornish, who scored two touchdowns. “Calvillo came to play, but we managed to stop him and the defence had two huge stops around the goal-line. That’s what won us the game. We had some good offensive plays, but it was the defence that won us this game.”

Heading into their regular-season finale against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and still with a shot at claiming top spot in the West Division standings, the Stamps (10-7) should get an emotional boost from their performance in the late stages of Sunday’s hard-fought victory in La Belle Province.

Three weeks ago, the Stamps’ defence couldn’t stop the host B.C. Lions from marching into enemy territory in the final minute and watched as Paul McCallum booted a last-second field goal for a 33-31 home-side win.

The following week, their tackling squadron couldn’t protect a one-point lead in Toronto, with kicker Noel Prefontaine acing a field-goal try on the final play to give the host Argonauts a 31-29 triumph.

On Sunday afternoon, the Stamps defence finally got their chance to celebrate.

“We knew it was going to come down to us sooner or later. Whether it was early in the game or late in the game, it’s always going to come down to the defence to hold them and stop them,” said Stamps defensive halfback Brandon Smith. “Our offence put us in a good situation. They were able to move the ball and keep us off the field, so once we got on, it was our turn to stand up. We just had to make the plays to win.”

They did.

And the timing couldn’t be better.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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