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From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 10:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The fight for first place in the West Division standings heats up on Saturday night at BC Place, as the Calgary Stampeders come calling on the British Columbia Lions.
Sporting the best record in the league after 13 games, the Lions had a chance to distance themselves even further last week when they clashed with Saskatchewan, but BC was tripped up in the 27-21 setback, snapping what had been a three-game win streak, which means Calgary is just two points behind in the standings entering the week.
The Stampeders managed to bounce back from their first loss in more than a month when they sized up Edmonton last Friday and were able to stomp the Eskimos in a 39-15 decision. The victory was the fifth in the last six games for a Calgary group that had been 3-4 after seven games to begin the season.
Despite being held scoreless in the first quarter, the Stamps found their rhythm in the second frame as they delivered 20 points and then cruised from there thanks in part to Jon Cornish who ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns as he reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Cornish, who carried the ball 20 times, became just the eighth Canadian in league history to reach 1,000 yards in a single season. His total of 1,127 yards at this stage is the fifth-highest total for a native born running back. As long as he remains healthy and an integral part of the Calgary offense, the chances of Cornish setting the all-time single-season mark for Canadian ball carriers appears rather favorable.
Kevin Glenn, who began the season as a backup at quarterback for the Stamps, now has a record of 7-2 as a starter after hitting on 21-of-28 passes for 292 yards and a couple of majors for the hosts last week. Glenn has now thrown for 18 TDs and 3,099 yards while completing 68 percent of his pass attempts. The gunslinger has eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark for an eighth consecutive season, thanks in part to Joe West who last week caught six passes for a game-high 135 yards.
The Lions were not nearly as productive last Saturday as they delivered just a single point through the first 30 minutes of action, en route to the six-point loss at Saskatchewan. In fact, the effort was so poor for much of the game that quarterback Travis Lulay was in jeopardy of seeing his consecutive games streak with at least one TD pass come to an end at 23.
However, during a feverish fourth quarter that saw the teams combine for 22 points, Lulay was able to guide the Lions into the end zone finally with a couple of TD passes to Marco Iannuzzi of 23 and 15 yards. Unfortunately, the signal-caller also ended his team's comeback bid when he threw a late interception.
Lulay, who trails Sam Etcheverry who had a string of 34 straight games with at least one passing touchdown between 1954-56, finished the meeting 19-of-36 for 232 yards and a pair of picks.
In addition to losing the game, the Lions also lost a pair of key skill players on offense as both Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce failed to come out for the second half. Simon, who ran his consecutive games streak with at least one catch to 172 in a row, finished with three grabs for 22 yards before exiting with a hamstring injury, while Bruce suffered a vicious hit that caused him to fall awkwardly on his head.
Trying to find some good news in the loss, aside from the streaks for Lulay and Simon continuing, linebacker Adam Bighill earned his second straight CFL Defensive Player of the Week award as he registered a club-record 13 tackles.
Bighill might be able to hold his own and generate big plays for the BC defense, but the real issue entering this week is what will happen if Simon and Bruce both sit out the meeting with Calgary? The pair have combined for 1,260 yards and six touchdowns and that kind of effort is not easily transferable to the next receivers on the depth chart. Then again, Lulay was able to make a strong run late in the fourth quarter with Iannuzzi as his favored target so anything is possible.
BC took down the Stamps in the first meeting of the season in late July by a score of 34-8 on the road, but it is still Calgary which owns a 94-76-5 record in the all-time, regular-season series dating back to 1954. Three weeks from now the squads will complete their season series in Calgary, a game which could have serious postseason implications no matter what the outcome of this meeting might be.
Even though both Simon and Bruce have been somewhat average this season, the fact that they command so much attention from defenses is key to the BC offense being able to move the ball down the field by other means. If both should be watching from the sidelines this time around, Calgary might be able to pull off the win on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 31, British Columbia 22
10/03 11:22:22 ET
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