A tough wind was no match for the Calgary Stampeders.
Jon Cornish rushed 24 times for 159 yards and Kevin Glenn completed 15-of-24 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as the Stampeders defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 17-10 in a game played in winds gusting up to 85 km/h.
“When we walked in here, we saw how bad the wind was,” said Calgary head coach John Hufnagel. “Fortunately, we were able to run the football and stay with the things we wanted to do.”
Glenn’s arm, Cornish’s legs and a defence that bent but didn’t break was the difference as the Stampeders improved to 4-4.
Saskatchewan, meanwhile, dropped its fifth straight to fall to 3-5 on the season and into last in the CFL’s West Division.
With the wind at their backs, the Stampeders opened the scoring on their first possession of the game on a 34-yard pass from Glenn to wide receiver Joe West, who is new to the Calgary starting lineup and drew praise from Hufnagel for his five receptions and 52 yards.
“He executed his assignments well,” Hufnagel said. “That’s exactly what we got him for.”
The Stampeders looked even more impressive on their second offensive sequence, marching the ball 101 yards. Glenn completed the drive with a 14-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Romby Bryant to give Calgary a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, with the wind in their faces, the Stampeders shifted to a ball-control strategy, using Cornish to establish a possession game that limited Saskatchewan’s scoring opportunities and allowed Calgary to take its 14-0 lead into the dressing room at halftime.
The trend continued following intermission as Rene Paredes made good on a field from 34 yards out as Calgary’s advantage grew to 17-0. Saskatchewan’s best scoring opportunity in the third quarter was foiled when the Roughriders turned the ball over on a fumble by quarterback Darian Durant at the Stampeders’ 34-yard line.
Saskatchewan rallied in the fourth with a 37-yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis midway through the quarter and a three-yard touchdown run by tailback Kory Sheets, but the comeback attempt fell short.
“We’re not putting points on the board,” said Durant, who completed 17-of-29 passes for 179 yards. “It is what it is, the nature of playing here. No matter what it’s like out there, if they score, we have to score, too. Obviously, I have to be better.”
Durant believes the answer to what ails Saskatchewan, which has gone into a tailspin following a promising 3-0 start to the season, is simply to “keep going, keep plugging, keep fighting — we’re not out of it.”
Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin said the solution is two-fold: physical and mental. What he wants to see from his players is execution and intensity.
“They’ve got to get going. They have to get going,” he said. “We have to make sure each and every guy is ready to go. I’m looking for mentally tough guys.”
“No matter how bad it is, you can win,” he added. “That’s what we have to get across to these guys. I wouldn’t say (it’s) a lack of intensity, but there has to be more intensity.”
Chamblin didn’t take any solace in the Roughriders’ late charge that came up short.
“I’m not interested in being close. I’m interested in winning games,” he said. “They have to understand what it takes to win and what you have to do to win. It’s going to be a tough ride, but the thing of it is, I haven’t given up on my players.”
Notes: Attendance was 33,427. ... Both teams can now look forward to the renewal of traditional rivalries on the Labour Day weekend. The Roughriders will play host to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sept. 2 and the Stampeders will take on the visiting Edmonton Eskimos on Sept. 3.