CALGARY - Rider Nation weren’t the only ones getting excited Saturday night when Travis Lulay tossed three unsuccessful deep bombs.
When the comeback attempt by the B.C. Lions failed in Regina, a door opened for the Calgary Stampeders.
Thanks to the thrilling Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 27-21 victory, the Stamps (8-5) now have a chance to share first place with the Lions (9-4) if they can beat the defending Grey Cup champions Saturday in Vancouver.
“Heck yeah,” Stampeders defensive tackle Brian Bulcke said when asked if he was pumped about the Riders victory.
“There’s nothing better than playing for a share of first place.”
About two months ago, the Stamps didn’t seem destined to be fighting for top spot at this point. The Lions came into McMahon Stadium in Week 5 and crushed the Stamps 34-8, handing the home team its third loss in four games.
Since then, the Stamps have won six of eight, while the Lions have now lost two of four to let go of a decent first-place lead.
Back on July 28, it was quarterback Kevin Glenn’s third start at the helm, and he feels like the Stamps are a different team now.
“That game wasn’t an indication of the type of team we are,” Glenn said. “It may give them a false security of the type of team we are. We’re not that team.
“We know the type of team they are, because of that win they got here, plus they’ve been in first for so long.
“This is a big one. It’s one of those games you get into professional sports to be in. When everything is on the line for us to take some possession of first place in the West, those are the games you build a career off.”
Every win lately has cost the Stamps in personnel and Friday night’s 39-15 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos was no different. Both defensive tackle Michael Stover (high-ankle sprain) and left tackle Edwin Harrison (knee, going for MRI) will be out for the foreseeable future.
Stanley Bryant will come back onto the roster to replace Harrison — just as he did during the previous six games when Harrison was sidelined — while Demonte Bolden will go back to his starting spot on the defensive line.
Had Friday been a playoff game, Bolden could have played, but the Stamps put Stover in and he lasted only four plays before going down. Stover is the fifth defensive lineman to go out with a long-term injury.
“It’s an unusual year,” Bolden said. “Every time you step onto this field, it’s like getting into a car accident. I just feel like you take a chance by going out there. You know there is a chance to get injured. It just happens.”
Having Stover out early meant Bulcke and Corey Mace took many more snaps than was expected, but they delivered.
“It was 50-50,” Bulcke said about his feelings when Stover went down. “Half of it is knowing you have to stomach up and realize you have a full game ahead of you.
“There are some things you need to be smart with. But at the same time it’s a great opportunity to let loose because you know you are matched up against the guy across from you every play. You start playing a chess game. It’s good fun.”
The Lions might be a hurting unit, too, when they face the Stamps. Both Geroy Simon (hamstring) and Arland Bruce (head) left Saturday’s game, leaving the Lions receiving corps depleted.
Still, that didn’t stop Lulay from firing deep passes left and right, hitting Kierrie Johnson on a 44-yard bomb and Marco Iannuzzi with a pair of TD strikes.
Lulay went down swinging, which didn’t surprise Stamps defensive back Keon Raymond, who now has to figure out how to stop the reigning CFL most outstanding player.
“With a young quarterback, he wants to show his head coach he will fight until the end,” Raymond said. “I’m glad he kept trying to chuck it down.
“They came out and gave it to us last time. Now we want to return the favour.
“(This is a big game, but) we want it to get bigger than this. The biggest game is Nov. 25. This is a game we’re looking towards to even up the series with them right now.”
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby