CALGARY - On the opening kickoff, Canadian defensive end Justin Phillips went down with an ugly knee injury.
What an awful start for the Calgary Stampeders.
For the next 59 or so minutes Friday night in front of 28,247 spectators at McMahon Stadium, everything else went right for the Stamps.
It was basically an organized practice against the woeful Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Nik Lewis went over 10,000 career passing yards in grand style, moving past former teammate Jeremaine Copeland into 15th place on the CFL all-time list, as the Stamps thumped the visiting Bombers 44-3 for their fourth straight victory.
“I felt great when I woke up this morning,” Lewis said. “I wanted to do it here in Calgary. It’s where I’ve been my whole career.
“The student passes the teacher. I owe a lot to (Copeland). Without him, I’m probably not still a Calgary Stampeder or getting 10,000 yards. He did a lot to help my career. He helped me grow.”
With their first possession, after Lewis gained 52 yards on a pass and run, the Stamps executed a perfect fake field goal. Holder Bo Levi Mitchell tossed a shovel pass to fullback Rob Cote coming off the end, and he rumbled 26 yards to open the scoring.
The play goes down as Mitchell’s first CFL touchdown pass, and it gave the Stamps a lead they would never come close to relinquishing.
“That kind of set the tone,” said Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel, who confirmed it’s a severe injury for Phillips.
“Justin was going to get a full game at that defensive end position. He was looking forward to it. It’s unfortunate.
“I’ve lost another soldier.”
Jon Cornish had two first-half TDs, from 18 yards and one yard out, while the Bombers conceded a safety after a Brian Bulcke sack. Rene Paredes kicked a 35-yard field goal and Rob Maver had a punt single for the hosts before intermission.
It was 27-0 at the half — and it was basically over.
Stamps quarterback Kevin Glenn played in the second half until throwing a 35-yard touchdown bomb to Johnny Forzani early in the final frame, while LaMarcus Coker scored on a 52-yard rush in the fourth quarter.
Glenn finished 17-of-23 passing for 298 yards, while Lewis caught seven passes for 131 yards. Glenn moved into 12th place on the all-time passing yardage list, topping 35,000 yards for his CFL career.
“It was satisfying to come out and play the way we did in front of our home crowd,” Glenn said. “We’ve been wanting to win like that.”
The win improves the Stamps to 7-4 and into a first-place tie with the B.C. Lions (7-3), who play at home Saturday against the Toronto Argonauts.
With the loss, the Bombers drop to 2-9 on the season and need a minor miracle to get back in the playoff race. It’s a stunning fall for team that was in the Grey Cup last season. Their ineptness would be fun to watch if it wasn’t so brutal.
Early in the third quarter, the visitors did manage to get within scoring range, thanks to Chad Simpson busting off a 26-yard rush, but two subsequent incomplete passes forced them to kick a field goal.
So, at least, the Bombers weren’t shut out.
The 27-point halftime deficit was actually an improvement on their previous road outing when they were down 28 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. That turned into a 52-0 thumping that will certainly go down as the worst performance of the season.
Can it possibly get worse?
The Stamps must be saying that about their injury situation, as they came into this outing with 11 players on long-term injured reserve.
But as long as the wins keep coming, they’ll be happy.
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