End of the line for Burris with Stamps?

Eskimos' defense sacks Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris during the fourth quarter in the Western...

Eskimos' defense sacks Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris during the fourth quarter in the Western Conference semifinal in Edmonton on Sunday. (PERRY MAH/ QMI AGENCY)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

John Hufnagel made the switch to a younger quarterback in Drew Tate a month ago.

The move seemed to spark the Calgary Stampeders who came into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak.

But trailing the Western Conference semifinal 25-9 after the first half, and with Tate having hurt his knee on a quarterback scramble just before the half, Hufnagel made the decision to go back to the tried and true in Henry Burris.

Tate may have been on his way to a seat on the bench for the second half even without that last-play-of-the-half injury.

He threw one pick and inexplicably lost the football as he attempted to scramble away from pressure.

That fumble turned out to be the turning point in the game as it was scooped up by one-time Argo Damaso Munoz and rumbled 76 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. The Eskimos never looked back.

Burris did rally the Stamps, getting them within a touchdown before the Esks broke it open with two late TDs.

The question now is whether Burris has played his final game as a Stampeder.

Burris made it very clear he was not happy about the switch to Tate, but being a professional, he continued to support his teammates and did not become a disruption.

An obvious landing spot for Burris, should he choose to go elsewhere, is Toronto.

Sure, Argos coach Jim Barker is going to have to publicly call it an open competition in training camp between Burris and Steven Jyles, but don’t kid yourself. If Burris does come to Toronto, it will be as a starter.

Cornish has no quit

Jon Cornish, like Tate, didn’t begin the year with a starting job but he did end the season as a starter in every sense of the word.

The Canadian back put his motor on display for the national audience last night and while his Stamps didn’t come away with the win, Cornish was the one reason they were even in the game. His motor just never stops. He averaged 7.3 yards a carry in the regular season. In Sunday’s western semifinal, he averaged 9.1 yards. First would-be tacklers were merely pushed aside or run over. It was multiple tacklers on every carry before he could be brought down.

Coming into the game the media tried to build this up to be Cornish vs. Jerome Messam, the other Canadian running back (he’s from Brampton) who turned heads this year in the CFL.

Messam was contained a little better than Cornish, although both backs got into the end zone once.

Messam’s afternoon ended prematurely when safety Demetrice Morley came in low and connected solidly with Messam’s left knee sending the Esks feature back sprawling. Messam was slow to get up and did not return, which has to be a major concern for the Esks as they head to B.C. and a date with the Lions in the western final next Sunday.

Ricky’s a runnin’ man

Ricky Ray made his reputation throwing the ball and running it only when he absolutely had to run it.

But with the regular season now a thing of the past, Ray, expanded his game and was rushing the ball like he had added running back duties to his repertoire.

Ray was not the only quarterback to go this route on Sunday. Anthony Calvillo, a much slow, not to mention older quarterback made the same bold decision to use his legs a little more. But unlike Calvillo, Ray wasn’t just running to the first down marker and sliding. He was juking and deking like a running back and when he did slide it was head first trying to get the extra yards.

It’s the kind of reckless style that leaves coaches reaching for their antacids, but in Ray’s summation it was what had to be done with the stakes raised as they were.

For the game Ray rushed just three times for 31 yards, but it was his approach and the way he went all out each time he did carry that ball that raised eyebrows.

FOURTH AND SHORT

Two plays in a row the Eskimos, looking to put a nail in the Stampeders coffin with a one-yard touchdown dive, ran it in for the TD only to learn they had lined up without an end. Once is at least acceptable. Twice in a row is almost unbelievable. Based on Kavis Reed’s reaction after the second one, he was thinking the same thing ... Munoz may have had the game-turning fumble recovery, but it was an early interception by linebacker T.J. Hill of Tate that seemed to knock the young rookie off his game. Hill, reading the rookie QB’s eyes stepped in front of the intended receiver for the early turnover. Tate never found his rhythm after that.

 


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