November 5, 2011
Stamps hang on to clip Bombers
By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Three in a row.
Three to go.
With Saturday's 30-24 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at McMahon Stadium, the Calgary Stampeders (11-7) finish tied for the CFL's top regular-season record and roll into the West Division semifinal on a three-game winning streak.
Calgary's first-round playoff opponent hinges on the outcome of Saturday's late game between the B.C. Lions and Montreal Alouettes.
If the Lions are victorious, the Stamps will head to Commonwealth Stadium to face the Edmonton Eskimos. If the Alouettes win, they will host the boys from B.C.
Either way, the Stamps will need to win three more to throw a Grey Cup parade at the end of the month.
To make that happen, they'll need to perform like the group that built a 24-0 lead in the second quarter against the Bombers, not the guys that almost gave it away.
Calgary's defence delivered a key stop with just under two minutes remaining in Saturday's matinee, pressuring Winnipeg's Alex Brink into three consecutive incomplete passes as the Bombers tried to cap a spirited comeback. Backup quarterback Henry Burris sealed the deal with a short-yardage sneak to move the yard-sticks one more time.
It seems fitting that the final game of what was a rollercoaster regular season for the Red & White was marked by inconsistency.
For awhile, it seemed likely the 29,076 spectators that braved the chilly conditions on Fan Appreciation Day at McMahon Stadium would witness a blowout.
The Stamps scored on their first offensive possession of the afternoon, with Rene Paredes splitting the uprights from 47 yards out.
Rookie defensive lineman Junior Turner drilled Bombers quarterback Alex Brink on a blitz later in the opening quarter, knocking the ball loose. Halfback Brandon Smith pounced on the pigskin and four plays later, running back and birthday boy Jon Cornish waltzed into the endzone for a four-yard score.
After forcing a two-and-out, defensive lineman Calgary's Chris McCoy blocked Jamie Boreham's punt, putting the Stamps' offence back in prime field position.
Tate scrambled for a first down, then connected with slotback Ken-Yon Rambo on a corner route for an 11-yard touchdown.
About seven minutes later, after Rambo's longest reception of the season and a couple of solid runs by LaMarcus Coker, Burris shed his jacket and scored a touchdown on a short-yardage sneak that made it a 24-0 ballgame.
And now for the bad news ...
Chris Garrett had a two-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bombers a bit of spark with just under four minutes remaining in the first half, and the Stamps made things interesting with a couple of costly mistakes.
First, Tate served up an interception to Bombers safety Jovon Johnson, his former teammate at the University of Iowa, that set up Brink's 18-yard touchdown strike to Clarence Denmark.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bombers rookie Henoc Muamba stripped the ball from Coker and the out-of-towners recovered in enemy territory. Although Winnipeg's offence stalled, Justin Palardy booted a field goal to trim the Stamps' lead to 24-17 at the break.
Paredes was successful on another field-goal attempt in the third quarter, giving the Stamps some much-needed wiggle room.
Palardy missed a field goal from 37 yards away early in the fourth quarter, but Stamps cornerback Johnnie Dixon brushed the Bombers special-teamer, who deserves extra points for selling a roughing-the-kicker penalty with a dramatic reaction.
Working with a fresh set of downs, the Bombers continued to march the ball, with Brink eventually cashing in with a two-yard touchdown.
Paredes added another field goal on the next drive — going a perfect three-for-three — and the Stamps defence finished the job, protecting a lead for the second straight week.