Splitting hares

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Henry Burris found his touch, Jeremaine Copeland found the handle, Joffrey Reynolds found his groove and the Calgary Stampeders found themselves above .500 again.

Sadly, all of that played second fiddle to the entertainment value provided by a rabbit that hopped onto the field and dashed from one endzone to the other for several minutes leading to the national anthem.

Exhibiting tremendous mobility and speed, the horrified hare also demonstrated brilliant decision making by choosing to leave McMahon Stadium through the south service entrance before one of the most uninspiring games in recent Stamps lore began.

Sadly, 29,490 others weren't so lucky.

Oh sure, the home side managed to outscore the worst team in Canadian football 34-17 thanks to a competent running game, a groovin' Burris and a handful of world-class catches by the team's showboat receivers.

But the Stamps left the field knowing a performance like that against any other team would not only bore fans to death but would keep the Ottawa Renegades playoff hopes alive as the two battle with Saskatchewan for the CFL's final playoff spots.

"This was a tune-up," said Burris, focusing on short passes as he came back from a four-week layoff to avoid turnovers of any kind, going 18-of-27 for 221 yards and three majors.

"This cast is a blessing in disguise -- it makes me focus on holding onto the ball. I'm actually enjoying it."

Fitted with a hard cast his teammates slapped at all week to take his mind off possible re-injury of his left thumb, Burris said he hopes doctors don't take it off anytime soon.

Nor do his receivers, who showed tremendous support in welcoming their leader back with a series of tough grabs that gave fans something to cheer about in the second half. Copeland was glad to have Burris back.

"He's our leader -- the stepping stone of our offence -- and we wanted to help the main guy get back in the lineup by making plays," said Copeland, who punctuated a second-half touchdown grab by climbing atop three teammates who formed a makeshift bicycle.

"That's a new one for everyone."

Also new was David Allen, a former Jacksonville Jaguars return specialist who joined the Stamps this week, giving him ample time to learn enough plays to make a 10-yard touchdown grab as a backup running back.

As good as Burris' receiving corps was, they could learn a thing or two from Ticats receiver D.J. Flick, who exhibited the type of class so rare in today's flash-and-dash CFL.

Instead of embarrassing himself with the type of choreographed dances Stamps receivers break into after even the most routine of grabs, Flick tossed the ball to the official and jogged to his sideline.

Make no mistake, the aforementioned trio had every reason to have a bounce in their step all night long.

Copeland surpassed the 1,000-yard mark with a brilliant first-half snare, Lewis was typically deft with a touchdown of his own and Rambo routinely went into traffic to come down with tough catches.

Still, the shameless celebrations that follow every grab are as annoying as they are predictable.

Nonetheless, the Stamps can count their blessings Hamilton provided a mere exhibition game to ease them back from a bye week, setting up the most important game of the year next weekend in Regina.

Ironically, it was at Taylor Field which played host to the last game-night appearance by a rabbit.

Here's hoping it's not the most entertaining portion of the evening.


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