Jon Cornish just needed a rest.
Two weeks after coming up flat and then criticizing his offensive line in a crushing loss to the B.C. Lions, the Calgary Stampeders running back powered his team to a 31-20 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Thursday at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Cornish, who rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown while catching six passes for 47 more yards, said he relaxed during his team’s bye week and returned with a fresh mind.
“Anytime you can reverse your fortunes from -1 to (170 yards), I would consider that a statement,” he said. “The O-line was doing their thing tonight. They were pushing people around and when they do that, it makes my life easy.”
Calgary improves to 3-3 with its first road win of the season while Hamilton falls to 3-3.
Most of the pregame hype surrounded the first meeting between Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn and Hamilton counterpart Henry Burris since they were traded for each other in the off-season.
Glenn completed 15 of 28 pass attempts for 141 yards and one touchdown while Burris went 21 of 40 for 267 yards, one TD and one interception. But it was Cornish who took over the storyline.
“That sometimes happens when you focus on two individuals, other individuals sneak in there and make their way,” said Glenn about Cornish’s performance. “I’m more happy that he had this kind of game than me beating my old team because you all think that’s it’s about me and revenge against the Ticats.”
Bo Levi Mitchell, Romby Bryant and Nik Lewis also scored TDs for Calgary. Chevon Walker scored twice for Hamilton, one from a 21-yard reception and another off a 47-yard rush.
Calgary kicker Rene Paredes hit his lone field goal from 25 yards while Hamilton’s Luca Congi hit both field goal attempts, from 43 and 22 yards.
Calgary took its first lead of the game in the third quarter when short-yardage QB Malik Jackson converted a one-yard TD run to go up 17-13. The score was set up by a 69-yard drive that was aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty against the Ticats.
Hamilton answered with an 85-yard drive, punctuated by a 47-yard TD run by Walker and the Ticats regained a three-point lead as time expired in the third.
But Glenn led a 58-yard drive and handed the ball to Bryant for an easy end run and eight-yard score for the 24-20 lead early in the fourth. Calgary pulled away midway through the fourth, driving 62 yards and ending with an eight-yard TD pass from Glenn to Lewis and the 31-20 lead.
After the game, Calgary head coach John Hufnagel praised Glenn’s perseverance in shaking off a tough first half.
“Ever since (Glenn) got on the field for us, he’s shown that he’s not perfect, but he’s not going to quit,” said Calgary head coach John Hufnagel. “He hung in there, made some plays, got cracked a few times but picked himself up and kept making plays.
“And his teammates helped him out. And that’s what we need, a full team effort and I thought this one tonight was a full team effort.”
The Stamps ran down the clock in the fourth, keeping ball possession for 5:17 and driving 75 yards before Cornish fumbled and Hamilton recovered the ball on their own three-yard line with 51 seconds left. But it was too little too late.
“I got too caught up in the game early on emotionally,” said Burris, who had played for Calgary the previous seven years. “I want to maintain my composure regardless of the situation. ... We can’t just come out and expect a team to give us something. They wanted it more.”
Hamilton’s run defence had given up a league-worst 638 yards coming into this game. Cornish gained 113 of his yards in the fourth quarter alone.
“The run won’t beat you in this league, it’s the pass ... but today it did” said Hamilton linebacker Rey Williams. “I thought we played well for three quarters (but) that fourth quarter, I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know what it was. I don’t know what it is.”