October 26, 2012

Blazing Start: Big first half enough to will Stamps to win

CFL.ca Staff

CALGARY – The Calgary Stampeders started the game with 34 unanswered points and barely looked back after that, walking away with a 41-21 home win over the BC Lions.

The Stampeders, who used a rotation of quarterbacks, received touchdown passes by all three, including starter Kevin Glenn who threw two.

Related: Lions at Stampeders

» Images: BC at CGY
» View Game Stats
» Video: Malik Jackson’s Fumble Ret. TD
» Video: Nik Lewis Tip Toes into the Endzone
» Video: Price Speeds Away For Major
Video: Brown’s 55-Yard Punt Return TD

» View Updated Standings
» Preview: BC at Calgary

The clubs entered Friday night with their playoff fates already decided as the Stamps will host the Western Semi-Final in hopes of earning the right to face the Leos again in the Western Final at BC Place.

Glenn got the start for the Stampeders after a week of speculation as to how head coach John Hufnagel would manage his quarterbacks as Drew Tate was deemed healthy enough to take part in game action.  Hufnagel had pre-scripted the reps with Glenn taking the first two series and Tate taking the following two possessions.

The Lions kicked off the game with a short kick in frigid weather and their boot was returned 24-yards by Rob Cote who set the Stamps up at midfield to start the game.  It would help them open the scoring three plays later when Rene Paredes hit a 46-yard field goal to take an opening-drive 3-0 lead.

Mike Reilly got the start once again for the Lions as Travis Lulay continues to nurse an injury and the team in no need to press the issue with first place in the West Divison sealed up.  Reilly completed 19 of 28 passes for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns in his impressive debut as a starter last week in a 39-19 win over the Edmonton Eskimos.

His night didn’t start nearly as strong at McMahon however as the Lions took two quick pre-snap penalties. Then Reilly dropped back for his second pass of the game but was stripped of the ball and his fumble was scooped up by Calgary linebacker Malik Jackson who rumbled for a touchdown and a 10-0 first quarter lead.

Knowing that he would eventually surrender some playing time to Tate, Glenn wanted to make sure he made his mark in the first quarter and before anyone on the Lions could blink, the Stamps were on the scoreboard again.

After their defence forced a quick two-and-out, Glenn found WR Maurice Price on a quick strike swing pattern and the CFL rookie turned it up field 53 yards for a touchdown; building to a 17-0 lead with 9:31 left in the first quarter.

Price made himself known last week when he recorded his first CFL touchdown, of 56 yards, against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The opening quarter couldn’t have finished soon enough for the Lions as simply nothing seemed to go right for them in the opening frame.

The next offensive possession ended with a sack and a short completion before a punt by Paul McCallum traveled just 7 yards after the ball slipped from his hands.

The Lions thought they caught a break when DB Ryan Phillips made a leaping interception off Tate’s first pass since July but the veteran defender fumbled on his return and the ball was recovered by Calgary for a net gain of 24 yards.  

Tate shook off the rust and found Nik Lewis on the next play who tip-toed down the sidelines for a 44-yard touchdown – his 10th major of the season.

Stamps rotate quarterbacks

With Drew Tate cleared to take part in game action after backing up the last few weeks, the Stampeders elected to rotate both he and Kevin Glenn behind centre on Friday night.

Glenn returned to start the second quarter and both he and the rest of the Stamps refused to take their foot off the gas.  The veteran pivot lead a short drive that finished with an unusual touchdown as third stringer QB Bo Levi Mitchell  – in the game in the goal line formation – found defensive lineman Corey Mace for a 1-yard touchdown.  It was the hulking lineman’s first career touchdown after lining up as a tight end.

Before the second quarter was even two minutes old, all three Calgary quarterbacks had thrown a touchdown pass.

Reilly finally settled in as the game approached the three minute warning and lead an 11-play drive, capped off by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Geroy Simon for the veteran’s second major of the year.

The pivot would build on the little momentum that the Leos acquired before the half by taking the Lions down into Calgary territory once again and finished his second straight touchdown drive by finding Akeem Foster open in the endzone for a 3-yard major to cut the Stamps’ lead to 34-14.

Tate and Glenn would continue to rotate series in the second half and the Lions defence, lead by Adam Bighill, came out an inspired bunch to shut down Calgary for the majority of the third quarter.

With their offence sputtering, the Lions special teams took it upon themselves to get their club back in the game when Tim Brown fielded a punt and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.  The major cut the lead to 34-21 and started to swing more momentum in BC’s favour.

The Stampeders answered with a field goal, set up by a 55-yard Jason Armstead return on the ensuing kickoff and then forced a turnover on BC’s next possession.

They would eventually convert another field goal to take a 40-21 lead.

With a sizable disadvantage on the scoreboard, Reilly’s night would end with 7:18 left in the game, giving way to rookie quarterback Thomas DeMarco for his first action of the season.

Rielly finished the game with 261 yards and two touchdowns on 19 of 26 passing but had two fumbles.