EDMONTON -- What’s old is new again for starting pivots Kerry Joseph and Kevin Glenn, as the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos are set to battle in a key Week 11 Labour Day rematch at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.
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Joseph and Glenn were Most Outstanding Player and runner-up respectively in 2007, while also leading their teams to a head-to-head appearance in the Grey Cup.
Now, forced into action because of injured starters Steven Jyles and Drew Tate, two of the league’s more experienced veterans are showing us some of the same magic we saw back in ’07.
It was on full display for the Stamps’ thrilling 31-30 win on Labour Day, and we should be in for more of the same this week, with Joseph announced as Edmonton's starter on Thursday.
“I thought he had a game-winning performance,” Head Coach Kavis Reed said of Joseph. “I thought he gave us an opportunity to win. Even at the end, he drove the ball to give us an opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal.”
It was the 38-year-old’s first start in two and a half years, and although the team couldn’t come away with a win after kicker Grant Shaw’s last-second field goal attempt sailed wide, Joseph clearly performed well enough to give Reed reason to keep Jyles on the sidlines for at least one more outing.
Reed said before Monday’s game that he expected Jyles to be fit for the rematch, adding he thought it improper for a starter to lose his job because of an injury.
But Joseph has provided an undeniable jolt of leadership and momentum to the Eskimos offence the last two games. He came off the bench in Toronto to lead Edmonton to a victory over the Argos two weeks ago.
He put his team in a position to win on Monday, too. He passed for more than 300 yards, spread the ball around, including two spectacular passing plays to go-to receiver Fred Stamps — one to score a touchdown; the other to set up one.
In the last minute of the game, despite having to start a drive on his own 10-yard line owing to a mistake by returner Joe Burnett, Joseph moved the Eskimos into range for a 48-yard game-winning field goal attempt into the wind by the strong-legged Shaw.
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Joseph staked the Eskimos to a 14-7 first-half lead, completing 11 of 14 passes for 197 yards and touchdown passes to Hugh Charles, a 73-yard gem, and Stamps.
He wound up completing 17 of 27 for 311 yards, the two TDs and a costly interception, the one play he’d like back from a game the Eskimos thought they let slip out of their grasp.
Regardless of the result though, Joseph sure didn’t show much rust for a man who hadn’t started a CFL game since 2009.
“Once we started going no-huddle, and we started getting a feel for what they were doing defensively, we got into a rhythm offensively,” Joseph said. “I think the biggest disappointment was coming out at halftime (for the third quarter). We got the (kickoff) and we had the wind at our backs, but we didn’t take advantage of that.”
The Stamps have also been forced to deal with an injury at the quarterback position, but with Tate out for the foreseeable future and Glenn playing more like it’s still 2007, there’s quite a bit more certainty in Calgary.
Glenn’s veteran savvy and experience have brought a calming presence to a Calgary offence that’s played a major role in the team’s ability to remain a contender this season, despite missing a key piece of their offence in Tate.
The 33-year-old’s quarterback rating of 97.2 this season puts him fourth among starters in 2012, while last week he threw for 273 yards and a pair of touchdowns in leading the Stamps to their second-straight win for the first time this year.
|The last time they met|
Kevin Glenn connected with Larry Taylor on a late touchdown pass, while Grant Shaw couldn't convert on a long field goal attempt in the dying seconds as the Stamps held on for a 31-30 thriller over their provincial rival on Labour Day. Glenn had 273 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win, while Cornish added 94 yards and a touchdown to lead the Stamps to a 24-point second half. Kerry Joseph was strong for the Esks despite the loss, throwing for 311 yards and two touchdowns in his first start in two and a half years. Joe Burnett, meanwhile, added his league-leading fourth interception of the season, bringing it back for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Getting a win on Labour Day was a big deal for the Stamps, especially after last year’s letdown in front of the home fans, when they fell 35-7.
“It was a very entertaining game,” said Head Coach John Hufnagel of the weekend’s wild display. “I’m glad that it was that type of game, especially after the performance we gave our home fans last year in the Labour Day Classic.”
“That bothered me for a long, long time. Exactly 366 days ago.”
Getting a win at home was important for Hufnagel and the Stamps, too, as the team had lost its previous two contests at home to the Lions and Argos. Monday’s energetic crowd of 32,102 certainly played a role in getting the win, especially when it came down to the final drive of the game, when the Esks had to start from deep in their own end.
“I liked what they were doing at the end of the game,” he said. “I thought it aided us, not only with our emotional spirit, but possibly it hindered (the Eskimos’) communication. And anything that you can do to help in that manner is good stuff. That’s why they call it home-field advantage.”
Now the advantage shifts northward, as the Stamps and Esks both look to move two games above .500, as well as into a temporary tie with the Lions for top spot in the West Division.
The challenge heading into Friday’s meeting, for both teams, will be playing the same hated team for the second time in five-day stretch.
After getting a much-deserved day off on Tuesday, the Stamps returned to practice on Wednesday before traveling to Edmonton on Thursday. Then tonight, the whistle blows.
“The good thing is, it’s the same team,” said Hufnagel, “so a lot of the preparation you did for the first game aids the second game. The bad thing is, it’s so close.”
“I mean, four days in between games that are usually very, very physical — it’s a toll on the players,” said Hufnagel. “They have to have the mindset that, over the next 60 hours, they’re going to do everything they can to get their bodies ready to play, get their minds ready to play, another physical football game.”
The Stamps have won the back half of the annual autumn spat for five years running, but the Esks have played exceptionally well following each of their first three losses this season, outscoring opponents by a margin of 96-47.
Something’s got to give on Friday.
Kickoff is at 9:00 P.M. ET, and can be seen on TSN or followed live via Game Tracker on CFL.ca and CFL Mobile.
- With files from Postmedia
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|