Late misplay gives Stampeders victory
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Hamilton Tiger-Cats Andy Fantuz didn't get the ball set in time for kicker Luca Congi to make the winning field goal against the Calgary Stampeders in CFL action at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, on October 20, 2012. (QMI Agency/MIKE DREW)
CALGARY - In a game of fumbles and bumbles under a snow-globe setting, the final misplay cost the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a victory.
The Calgary Stampeders will take it, and now they can get ready to host the West semifinal at McMahon Stadium, while hoping the weather is much better than it was Saturday evening.
On a snow-capped field with the wind blowing, the Stamps escaped with a 34-32 victory over the Ticats that wasn't sealed until 'Cats holder Andy Fantuz bobbled the would-be game-winning 30-yard field-goal attempt for Luca Congi.
Despite committing seven turnovers, the Stamps improve to 10-6 and await either the Edmonton Eskimos or Saskatchewan Roughriders for the opening round of the playoffs. The Ticats drop to 5-11 and are hanging by a thread to playoff hopes.
"We got the win, and that's the biggest thing" said Stamps QB Kevin Glenn, who went 22-of-34 passing for 283 yards with two TDs and four interceptions.
"It was an ugly win. I'm very disappointed in myself. I don't think I've ever had a game like that. It's something to be happy about: Playing that bad and still getting the win.
"You want to play well in that weather. We won't continue to win if we keep playing like that."
It was a homecoming for Henry Burris at McMahon, and the former Stamps pivot can hold his head high as he leaves.
The 37-year-old put his team in position to win, but could only watch in disbelief as the final play was botched.
Burris, who finished 24-of-33 for 354 yards with two TDs and two INTs, engineered two fourth-quarter drives for majors to give his team a chance.
After Onrea Jones leapt to recover the onside kick, Burris took the ball with 52 seconds left and fired a bullet to Chris Williams for 39-yard gain to set up the winning chance.
"It's hard when it comes down to one play to decide it," Burris said. "That truly wasn't the deciding play, but it was disappointing for everything to finish like that."
The Stamps picked up 14 points off just three Ticats turnovers, but the Ticats only managed eight points off the seven Calgary miscues.
There weren't enough fans in the building to give Burris the cold shoulder, but the Stamps defence gave him one anyway. They dropped the former Stamps pivot six times in the backfield, with Keon Raymond and team sack leader Charleston Hughes getting two apiece.
"It was a struggle for the offence," Hughes said. "We let them know we have their backs, even at the hardest times. We are going to battle all the way up to the end and let the score tell the story."
The home side was lifeless, fumbling and bumbling through the opening quarter when Raymond changed all that.
A Burris pass bounced off Sam Giguere's mitts and right to Raymond. The Stamps defensive secondary leader sprinted to the sidelines, got a couple of blowup blocks and turned the corner, running for a 100-yard TD.
The huge play woke up the Stamps, although they kept turning the ball over constantly.
Glenn threw TD passes to Jon Cornish (who also ran one in) and Maurice Price as the Stamps took a 27-16 lead into the final frame.
Along with Raymond's TD, the other key Hamilton turnover was Fred Bennett knocking the ball loose from Bakari Grant late in the fourth quarter.
Juwan Simpson scooped it up and ran down to the 20-yard line. Bo Levi Mitchell punched it in from one-yard out after Dee Webb interfered with Romby Bryant in the endzone, and the Stamps had enough to force the Ticats to go for two and miss on their would-be tying convert.
The score set up a wild finish, and heartbreak for Fantuz.
"It seems like it sums up our season, but we're not dead yet," Fantuz said about the Ticats fading hopes.
"We've just got to keep fighting and keep our head up. It's disappointing.
"It was a good snap, put it down on the tee and it just slipped right off. It's just one of those things that happens in this type of weather."
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby