Jon Cornish outburst ancient Stampeders history

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:54 AM ET

CALGARY - The game — and the outburst — seem so long ago, now.

Back in Week 5, just before a bye, Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish had the worst outing of his career, rushing for minus-1 yard on six carries against the B.C. Lions.

In the immediate aftermath of that humbling defeat, the 27-year-old second-year starter tore a strip off his offensive line, then apologized a day later.

When the Stamps came back from their week off, it was as if the first five games were a different season for Cornish and his group of blockers.

Since then, Cornish has taken the league by storm, with four 150-yard rushing games behind a now-dominant offensive line. Still, the Stamps haven’t faced the Lions since that day, which makes Saturday’s visit to B.C. Place Stadium a crucial one.

“B.C. has a great defensive line and great linebackers,” Cornish said Friday night, after rushing for 180 yards and two TDs in a 39-15 beatdown of the Edmonton Eskimos.

“The first time we came out against them, obviously I didn’t have the greatest game. I’m looking forward to (a rematch).

“There is a little bit of additional focus for me. How are you going to respond to a minus-1 yard game? That’s all I need to focus.”

The Stamps will get the Lions twice in their final five games, and if they hope to take over first place in the West Division, they must win at least one of them.

It would seem the Stamps won’t have much success against the Lions unless they have a solid rushing attack going.

When these teams met in Week 5, Lions defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell was a big story coming off an arm-bar attack against Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman Simeon Rottier.

Mitchell was suspended for two games, but his appeal process meant he could play against the Stamps. A couple of times Cornish tried to run, he ran smack into the Mitchell wall.

The Stamps left that game figuring they needed to make changes on their offensive line, so a major one took place.

J’Micheal Deane shifted from left guard to right tackle, while 24-year-old Spencer Wilson debuted as a starter to replace Deane.

On Friday, left tackle Edwin Harrison went out with a knee injury in the second quarter, so Wilson moved over to cover for the import, and Obby Khan came in at left guard.

Cornish doled out the compliments to his linemen and the rest of the offence after rushing for 180 yards.

The likelihood is Stanley Bryant returns to left tackle this week against the Lions, and Cornish will try to keep on chewing up yardage.

With five games left, Cornish has a healthy lead in the rushing title race, which would be a feather in the cap of the hoggies.

“There is plenty of time left and things could go either way,” Cornish said. “Our offensive line, our quarterback, our receivers and our defence are all playing well.

“Everyone knows this is the important part of the season and everyone is coming to play.”

Cornish moved over the 1,000-yard rushing mark Friday, becoming just the eighth Canadian player in history to do that. Already he’s had the fifth-best rushing season by a homegrown talent, and there is plenty of football left.

On Saturday, before the Lions kicked off against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, fellow Canadian running back Andrew Harris sent along his congratulations via Twitter.

Harris has had an outstanding season for the Lions, and he’s chasing the mantle of most yards from scrimmage.

The two will go head-to-head twice more, and it will be against the Lions that Cornish can cement his claim for one of the all-time best seasons by a Canadian.

“If I do lead the league in rushing, I can say I did it with a minus-1 yard game,” Cornish said. “I’m proud of the whole season, no matter what.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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