Hank's happy ending

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

Those who braved three quarters of brutal football and two torrential downpours to miss one helluva hockey game, eventually saw exactly why Henry Burris was brought in to lead the Stamps last year.

With five minutes to go and the game on the line, the 31-year quarterback did what he was paid to do -- win.

Despite the preceding 55 minutes in which Burris and his offence did everything they could to fritter away another gift-wrapped effort by the Eskimos, Burris stepped up when it mattered most.

"It's called redemption," said Burris who used his legs and arm to orchestrate a 10-play, 95-yard drive to win the game with 91 seconds left.

"All night long it was S.O.S. -- same old stuff as we started out with last season: Turnovers, my interception, dropped passes ... But when it got right down to it, we put it all together and showed the fans every book might not be that interesting but they can still have good endings."

Throwing for just 110 yards by the end of the third quarter and still leading 10-7, Burris watched as Eskimos counterpart Ricky Ray directed a 71-yard touchdown drive through the air to take the lead with five minutes left.

Determined to prove he can be as clutch as last year's Grey Cup winner Burris pieced together a delicious combination of runs and passes that seemed to stall on Edmonton's 33-yard line.

Facing third and ten, Burris was flushed out of the pocket, scrambled towards the sideline and heaved a desperation pass towards the goal-line that landed in the waiting arms of Nik Lewis a yard in from the sideline.

Joffrey Reynolds called it a "lucky" play.

Burris begged to differ.

"On third down you have to make a play and although it always seems like a desperation pass, I saw him out of the corner of my eye and threw it because I didn't have a lot of real estate left," said Burris, who ran for 30 yards on the night.

"The bottom line is that although we struggled early we got the win and that's what's important."

Despite the Eskimos turning the ball over seven times, it appeared most of the evening the Stampeders were in serious jeopardy of being outscored not just by the Eskimos but by the Oilers as well.

Unable to find the endzone until the final five minutes when his 33-yard touchdown to Lewis was followed by a capper to Jeremaine Copeland to seal the deal, the Stamps opened the year with a 24-14 win that can be improved upon in every way.

"In the end, he has the ability to stay alive," said Tom Higgins of Burris who he brought in last year to help turn around a 4-14 franchise.

"You make a play and go home smiling."

Accumulating roughly half his 198 yards passing on the game-winning drive, Burris saved himself and his team from a humiliating effort.

"Tonight was ugly," said offensive lineman Jay McNeil. "But that's the way we're going to win. We fought right until the end and those fans who stayed to see it got what they deserved because they're the best fans in the league."

Helping Burris' cause was a 153-yard rushing effort from Joffrey Reynolds who was only called upon once during the final drive.

"They have a good defence and we had a lot of trouble with them," said Reynolds.

"Slowly but surely we got to them and I really liked that final five minutes."

So did everyone else who believed Burris could lead this team.


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