What a week for Jon Cornish.
After drawing the ire of the CFL and his coach a few days earlier, Cornish scored a pair of touchdowns, ran for 180 yards and joined a select group of Canadian running backs in the Calgary Stampeders’ 39-15 romp over the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday.
“He was a man possessed this evening,” Stampeders coach John Hufnagel said. “He wanted to do something this evening and he accomplished it.”
Cornish was fined an disclosed amount by the CFL and publicly admonished by Hufnagel for pulling down his pants and “mooning” Roughriders fans at Mosaic Stadium last Sunday.
The league’s leading rusher distanced himself from that debacle with his performance against Edmonton. With a 73-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, Cornish became the eighth Canadian running back in CFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.
The 27-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., joined Norm Kwong, Gerry James, Ron Stewart, Bob Swift, Orville Lee, Sean Millington and Jerome Messam in the Canadian 1,000-yard club.
With 1,127 yards under his belt and five games remaining in the regular season, Cornish already has the most yards by a Canadian since Lee in 1988.
“I want to be the best running back and I can be,” Cornish said. “I’m Canadian and obviously I get some credit for that, but I’m just out here trying to as much as I can as a human being rather than my nationality.”
Touchdown catches from Johnny Forzani and Nik Lewis, along with a trio of field goals from Rene Paredes, also helped Calgary improve to 8-5. The Stampeders trail the division-leading B.C. Lions by two points.
Edmonton quarterback Matt Nichols ran for a touchdown in his first CFL start. Slotback Fred Stamps also scored for the visitors, who lost their fifth in a row and dropped to 5-8.
“Five in a row, especially against somebody in our division like this, Calgary,” Stamps said. “We have to figure out a way to get this monkey off our back.”
It’s the first time in franchise history the Eskimos were winless in the month of September.
Stampeders quarterback Kevin Glenn completed 21-of-28 passes for 292 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was Glenn’s fifth straight game of at least 250 passing yards.
Edmonton handed Nichols the ball because Steven Jyles and Kerry Joseph were deemed not healthy enough to play. Both quarterbacks dressed Friday, but Nichols took every snap. The 25-year-old was 14-for-26 passing for 167 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Cornish was held to 67 yards in a 30-25 loss to Saskatchewan last week. Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin had vowed to cut a player if Cornish achieved over 100 yards in that game.
The Esks couldn’t contain the six-foot, 220-pound rusher playing in his 100th career game. Cornish compiled 130 yards in the first half alone on 20 carries.
“I think we need to find some kryptonite for that Superman,” Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said. “We’re not getting enough guys to the ball carrier to be able to secure the tackles.”
Cornish had apologized for baring his bottom in Regina.
“The original act was meant to be something funny. It wasn’t taken that way and I apologized. I’m out here trying to have a fun time,” he said. “I love the CFL and love the fact it’s such a great league and lets me have fun on the team by simply producing.
“I would say that’s a better form of fun, definitely.”
Calgary is undefeated against Edmonton in three meetings this season. The Stamps clinched the season series after narrowly beating their provincial rivals 31-30 on Labour Day and 20-18 in the rematch four days later.
There was no fight to the finish Friday as the Stampeders were in control from the second quarter on in front of 29,290 at McMahon Stadium.
Trailing 20-8 midway through the third quarter, Edmonton’s Hugh Charles was tackled in the end zone by Kenny Pettway for a safety.
Parades then stretched the lead to 25-8 at 9:05 with a 27-yard field goal.
The Esks then cut the lead to 10 points after a 17-yard touchdown run from Nichols at 13:18 of the third quarter.
Cornish scored his second touchdown of the game, and ninth of the season, from a one-yard out at 1:34 of the fourth before Lewis’ diving five-yard grab at 6:50 capped the scoring with his eighth TD of 2012.
After a scoreless first quarter, a Lewis block on Edmonton’s Donovan Alexander gave Cornish the room he needed to scamper for a touchdown and CFL history at 1:07 of the second quarter.
A wide-open Forzani then caught Glenn’s 44-yard touchdown pass at 8:18 to make it 14-0 for the hosts.
Stamps scored Edmonton’s first TD at 9:40 making a difficult grab under pressure from two Calgary defenders.
Paredes extended Calgary’s lead to 20-7 at the half with field goals from 11 and 28 yards in the second quarter.
Second-quarter scoring compensated for a sluggish first.
Penalties put Calgary in poor field position when they had the ball. The Esks had decent field position in the opening 15 minutes, but Nichols was trying to find his timing and completed just two of his first six passes.
Edmonton hosts the Tiger-Cats next Friday. The Lions host Calgary next week.
Notes: The CFL find the Eskimos $1,000 on Friday for letting a player without a registered contract with the league participate in practice. ... Lewis has had a reception in all 153 career games and is 53 yards from a ninth consecutive season of 1,000 yards.