MONCTON — Marcus Thigpen made the most of his first start of the season as a Tiger-Cats receiver.
Thigpen caught two of Kevin Glenn’s three touchdown passes and ran in a missed field goal as Hamilton took this year’s Touchdown Atlantic game with a 55-36 victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday.
The Ticats, playing as the home team, improved to 6-6 on the season while Calgary dropped to 7-5 after the League’s second visit out East, which drew 20,153 to the University of Moncton campus.
Thigpen’s highlight play came when he returned Rene Paredes’ missed field goal 118 yards to give Hamilton a 34-21 lead heading into the final quarter. He finished with 264 yards receiving.
“I came into training camp this year playing receiver, so it was really nothing new, it was all about timing,” said Thigpen.
“I finally got my opportunity to go out there and show what I can do. I take advantage of every opportunity I get.”
The loss dropped the Stamps into a tie with Edmonton for top spot in the West Division. Hamilton stays third in the East.
Glenn finished 16-for-23 with 276 yards and no interceptions. He said his teammates gave him a lot to work with on the field.
“You got three running backs on the field, but all of them can play like a receiver and catch the ball,” Glenn said. “TerryGrant, Thigpen and Avon Cobourne – all those guys did a hell of a job today.
“The offensive line blocked, receivers _ when called upon to catch the ball _ caught it. It was a good all-around win.”
The Tiger-Cats dominated the first half, taking a 24-14 lead at the half capped by Glenn finding Thigpen in the end zone with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
Stampeders’ quarterback Henry Burris and receiver Romby Bryant combined for Calgary’s two touchdowns in the first half.
Burris finished the game 13-of-23 for 177 yards, while backup Drew Tate threw two TDs in the fourth quarter, including a 10-yard strike to Bryant – his third of the game.
A scare for the Ticats came early in the third quarter when receiver Matt Carter took a big hit that sent him airborne and landing on his neck. He didn’t return to the game.
LaMarcus Coker had the Stamps only touchdown in the third on a 75-yard run.
Calgary coach John Hufnagel made a change at running back, starting Jon Cornish instead of Joffrey Reynolds. It was only Reynolds’ second time as a healthy scratch.
It was Calgary’s second straight loss and third in four game after a 32-19 defeat to B.C. at home last week.
Hufnagel said he was searching to learn what’s going wrong with his team.
“The way we played football over the last month is not the same type of football we played at the beginning of the season,” said Hufnagel.
“I don’t think we’re tough enough mentally to overcome bad situations in a football game … every game has peaks and valleys and you have to fight through it.”
The near capacity crowd in Moncton enjoyed their second chance to host a regular season game, and much of the talk at the tailgate party was about what’s next.
“I think it’s a very good idea to have it here and hopefully there will be more games in the future,” said Hamilton fan Jack Lilliman of Dorset, Ont.
Stampeders fan Norm Solomons travelled all the way from Lacombe, Alta., for the game and said he’s interested in seeing the League expand east.
“I think it would be really good,” he said. “It would open up Canada for more football.”
League commissioner Mark Cohon said it’s too soon to make any commitments to have more out-of-province teams hold yearly games in Moncton.
“I’ll look at the opportunities for some of our teams to come here, buying out another home day from one of our teams and sitting down with the mayor and the city in determining if we come next year or do we come in 2013,” Cohon said prior to the game.
“You think about Hamilton in 2013, they’ll be out of their stadium, and I think that’s one of the potential opportunities.”
Both teams return to the field next Saturday as the Stampeders travel to Saskatchewan (4-8) and the Ticats are home to the Argonauts (3-9). Notes: In their only previous meeting this season, Calgary beat Hamilton 32-20. … Henry Burris made his 66th consecutive start for the Stampeders. … Game played on natural grass at the University of Moncton.