Stamps' Jon Cornish chasing CFL milestone

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Kevin Glenn hands off the ball to Calgary Stampeders running back...

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Kevin Glenn hands off the ball to Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish while playing against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during first half CFL football game in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sept. 23, 2012. (REUTERS)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:06 AM ET

The moon Jon Cornish showed off in Regina turned out to be an eclipse.

With the incident getting most of the headlines this week, it overshadowed what Cornish could accomplish as the Calgary Stampeders kick off the final third of the CFL regular season.

All Cornish needs is 53 rushing yards and he becomes the second Canadian to hit the 1,000-yard mark since the year 2000.

A year ago, Jerome Messam was making a lot of news in his chase for 1,000, so it would be fitting Cornish hit that mark against the Edmonton Eskimos.

But if Cornish stops after Friday night's meeting at McMahon Stadium (8 p.m., TSN), his season would fall short of his goals.

"People have expectations and 1,000 yards is just expected," Cornish said. "I'm about where I was expected to be at this point.

"Say we play this game and say I have 53 yards and I get it. I still have five games left.

"If I do that the rest of the year, then it's 1,250 and it's the second highest by a Canadian all-time. The biggest question is, 'Can he get to the Normie Kwong record?' That's where my sights are. That's where I would like to go."

The Kwong mark of 1,437 rushing yards set in 1956 is the standard Cornish would like to reach.

Considering that, just a few years ago, starting a Canadian at tailback was a foreign concept, the fact Cornish is on pace to lead the CFL in rushing for the first time since Orville Lee did it in 1988 is quite the accomplishment.

But it's been a strange week for the fifth-year Stampeder, who had to issue an apology Monday after dropping his pants on the sidelines at Mosaic Stadium.

With all the negativity surrounding him, it's easy to forget he's on pace for 1,320 yards after 12 games. All it would take is another performance like the one had against the Eskimos in the Labour Day rematch to boost that projection.

The Eskimos defence spent plenty of time studying what they did wrong Sept. 7 when Cornish scampered for 185 yards.

They especially looked at the 59-yard TD run Cornish broke off, thanks to a massive hole broken open by the Stampeders' offensive line.

"It was a big play," Eskimos linebacker Damaso Munoz said. "We don't want to open up the gates like that again.

"We looked at the film and made corrections. We come into this game that it's a new game and a new season."

Over the past few seasons, Cornish generally saved his best efforts for the Battle of Alberta.

But the 27-year-old didn't get his first start against the Eskimos until last year's West semifinal at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Stampeders lost that game, but it was hardly Cornish's fault. He ran for 127 yards on 14 carries, even though he felt the Eskimos defence was geared up to stop him.

"It seems like he's coming back with revenge, right now," said Eskimos linebacker T.J. Hill, who would like to keep Cornish under 53 yards and spoil any celebration Friday night.

"We always want to stop them when they have milestones in reach. Certain players are going to have success. We try to limit it as much as possible.

"If you tell me he gets 80 yards and we win the game, I would take it. He can have that 80 on the first run, as long as we end up winning."

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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