Stamps get ticket to the dance

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:24 PM ET

The Calgary Stampeders officially qualified for the 2006 playoffs last night but then quickly set their sights on a new goal.

In dispatching the Toronto Argonauts 39-18 in front of 31,539 fans at McMahon Stadium, the red-hot Stamps sent a warning to the B.C. Lions.

"We want first place," said veteran offensive lineman Jay McNeil. "We want to win.

"We want 60 minutes to get into the Grey Cup. To let up now would be a real big disappointment.

"Our goal is to get better every week and win every game and not have a letdown like we did two weeks ago like we did in Edmonton."

Running back Joffrey Reynolds ran in a pair of one-yard touchdowns and Sandro DeAngelis booted six field goals as the Stamps made the East Division-leading Argos look average at best.

Calgary snapped Toronto's five-game win streak in convincing fashion, running up a 28-point lead before letting the Argos get a couple of late touchdowns.

The Stamps improved to 9-5 and vaulted into a temporary tie with the Lions for first in the West. Calgary heads to Toronto for a rematch with the Argos next week and then has a two-game set with the Lions that will ultimately decide who hosts the West final.

Two years ago, just getting into the playoffs would be an achievement for the Stamps.

Last night, head coach Tom Higgins didn't even realize his team would participate in the post-season no matter what.

"I haven't given it any thought," Higgins said. "Now we don't have to worry about it. Now the pressure is on us because we have a streak of two years in a row.

"The goal all year is to play as well as we possibly can and get back and play at home."

Calgary's offence started off slowly last night against the Argos but were able to get into DeAngelis' long range to build a 12-1 halftime lead.

Midway through third quarter, Reynolds took control of the contest by taking a swing pass from quarterback Henry Burris and weaving in and out of defenders for a 63-yard gain.

The play set up the game's first touchdown and helped the Stamps finally solve a bend-but-don't-break Argos defence.

"They will bleed a little bit and hope you make mistakes to get off the field," Reynolds said. "Our defence did a good job of holding them down so we could hit our stride in the second half.

"To make a big play against this defence is pretty hard."

The visitors came in with the intention of using suspended NFL running back Ricky Williams more often than in all his previous CFL games.

Williams, who had all the hype prior to kickoff, finished with 57 yards rushing and 25 receiving before leaving at the end of the third quarter.

The big play on defence came from linebacker Brian Clark, who picked off Argos quarterback Damon Allen in the third quarter to set up another Reynolds plunge.

"He tried to throw across his body, he's know for that, but I was lucky enough to be there to make the play," Clark said.

Argos kicker Noel Prefontaine booted a 32-yard field goal and had a 55-yard punt single for all the scoring the Argos could muster through three quarters.

Allen threw a pair of touchdown passes to Arland Bruce III when the game was out of reach.


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