Henry Burris’s eight-yard TD strike to Jeremaine Copeland with less than a minute remaining rallied the Calgary Stampeders to a 23-20 win over Toronto and hand the Argonauts a club-record 10th straight home defeat Friday night.
Burris marched the Stampeders (4-4) 40 yards on four plays, capping the drive with the completion to Copeland at 14:14 of the fourth quarter, his second TD of the game. It came after Toronto’s Cody Pickett hit newcomer P.K. Sam with a 19-yard touchdown at 10:21 put Toronto ahead 20-16.
Pickett found an open Sam – playing his first game of the season for the Toronto – in the corner of the end zone after Sandro DeAngelis’s 42-yard field goal at 8:34 had put Calgary ahead 16-13.
Copeland’s fourth-quarter heroics capped an entertaining second half that mercifully injected some much-needed life into the contest for the Rogers Centre gathering of 25,329. Spectators were forced to endure a simply brutal opening half that featured 14 combined punts and just a field goal apiece.
Toronto (2-6) last won at home Aug. 1, 2008 against Winnipeg. Toronto came into the game with an 8-2 home record against Calgary, but the Stampeders earned their fifth straight regular-season victory over the hapless Argos.
Calgary is 2-0 this season against Toronto after beating the Argos 44-9 at McMahon Stadium earlier this year.
Pickett fell to 0-4 as a CFL starter – with three of those losses coming against Calgary – while Argos first-year head coach Bart Andrus remains winless in four home games this season.
Calgary had a glorious chance to break the 3-3 tie early in the third when Odell Willis recovered Pickett’s fumble at the Toronto 34-yard line and an unnecessary roughness penalty moved the ball to the 19-yard line. But Zeke Moreno’s interception ended the Stamps’ threat.
Pickett finally gave the Argos faithful something to cheer about when he hit Sam on an 11-yard TD strike at 8:44. The touchdown was set up by Jason Pottinger’s recovery of Titus Ryan’s punt return fumble at the Calgary 16-yard line.
That seemed to inspire the Stampeders, who countered with a smart six-play, 71-yard drive that Burris capped with a 17-yard touchdown pass at 12:23 to make it 10-10. That completion moved Burris into a first-place tie with Doug Flutie for the most completions in club history (1,438) – a record he broke later in the game.
Sandro DeAngelis finished with three field goals and two converts.
Justin Medlock kicked two field goals and two converts.
A field goal apiece is all the two teams could muster in the opening half as each offence had about as much flow as a stagnant swamp. The defences dominated play as Pickett was 15-of-21 passing but for just 104 yards – eight of his completions to running back Jamal Robertson for 58 yards – while Burris completed 6-of-13 passes for 75 yards.
Overall, Calgary mustered 134 total yards and seven first downs while Toronto had just 115 yards and six first downs.
The two busiest players were Medlock and Calgary’s Burke Dales, who had a combined 14 punts in the opening half.