Canadian Football League

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rookie Canadian Football League QB leads Stamps to victory

A little patience went a long way for Calgary Stampeders coach Tom Higgins on Saturday night.
After watching rookie quarterback Jason Gesser complete just two-of-12 passes for 22 yards with two interceptions against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Higgins seriously considered going with Danny Wimprine in an attempt to erase a 17-7 half-time deficit. But Higgins opted to stick with Gesser heading into the second half.
Gesser rewarded Higgins with three second-half touchdown passes to lead Calgary to a 39-17 victory before an Ivor Wynne Stadium gathering of 27,821, many of whom came to see the pro debut of Hamilton running back Jesse Lumsden.
"I've been criticized for being overly patient," Higgins said. "But we felt we'd give Jason another series, another few series and it paid dividends for us.
"We want to show confidence in him so that's why at halftime we said, 'OK, let's see how you do. He got into a nice groove in the second half."

Did he ever, considering Gesser finished 12-of-24 passing for 214 yards. Gesser had four interceptions but was bailed out by a Calgary defence that forced six turnovers and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Gesser started in place of incumbent Henry Burris, who underwent thumb surgery last week. After a horrendous first half, Gesser found Nik Lewis on a 43-yard TD strike in the third before hitting Ken-Yon Rambo with a 19-yard touchdown at 2:56 of the fourth, staking Calgary (6-6) to a 25-17 lead. Gesser cemented the Stampeders' second straight win with a 10-yard TD strike to Martay Jenkins at 8:21, a drive helped by a sensational diving, one-handed catch by Jeremaine Copeland.
"I was really down in the first half," said Gesser. "I wasn't confident in myself and my decisions.
"I was playing not to screw up rather than playing to make plays. I was second-guessing a lot of throws I was making."
The Ivor Wynne Stadium faithful barely got settled into their seats before they were back on their feet again when Lumsden took the opening kickoff 20 yards. There was a buzz in the stands as Lumsden, Hamilton's 2005 first-round pick who signed last week after being released by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, took to the field.
The six-foot-two, 228-pound Lumsden, a native of Burlington, Ont., who won the Hec Crighton Trophy last year at McMaster University, wore his usual No. 28 and played exclusively on special teams. He returned three kickoffs for 77 yards, fumbled another but recovered it for an 11-yard gain, and also covered punts and kickoffs.
Lumsden brought fans to their feet midway through the third after Calgary cut Hamilton's lead to 17-15. Lumsden took the kickoff 37 yards, capping the run by lowering his head and bulling over Stampeders kicker Sandro DeAngelis.
A play later, Trey Young intercepted Hamilton's Khari Jones, setting up DeAngelis's 39-yard field goal for an 18-17 Calgary lead. Jones replaced Ticats starter Danny McManus in the first when he was levelled giving up an interception to John Grace, who returned it four yards for a TD to tie the score 7-7.
"It's nice to finally be back into a routine but it would've been nicer to come out with the win," said Lumsden. "I wasn't nervous even though I didn't sleep well (Friday night) but I don't usually sleep well the night before a game.
"I was very excited to get out there and it felt real good to get that first lick on, catch the ball and get going."
Hamilton (2-10) remains last in the East, its playoff aspirations literally hanging by a thread.
With the Ticats off next week, coach Greg Marshall hinted changes are likely.
"Look at where we are right now and that's not good enough," he said. "I feel bad for the players in there because I know they gave a good effort but the reality is we need to find players . . . and will continue to bring in some players and make some changes to this point.
"We had too many turnovers . . . and we gave Jason Gesser some confidence because we allowed him to play on a short field. If you back a quarterback back up into his own end, he plays a different game. You put him on this side of the mid-line and he'll take some shots and he took them. It really hurt us when Danny went out too because he took the bulk of reps this week."
The loss tarnished a fine debut by Ticats rookie cornerback Jykine Bradley. Brought off the practice roster this week, Bradley intercepted Gesser twice, returning one 71 yards for a touchdown.
Brian Clark, on a 91-yard interception return, had Calgary's other touchdown. DeAngelis had five converts, a field goal and single but missed two field goals.
Dondre Gilliam scored Hamilton's other touchdown. Jamie Boreham added two converts and a field goal.
Notes - In attendance were hundreds of girl guides, who camped out at Brian Timmis Stadium, located beside Ivor Wynne, on Saturday night . . . Interim Ticats GM Rob Katz says the club will begin looking at younger quarterbacks once it's eliminated from playoff contention. In addition to McManus, the club's other quarterbacks are Jones and youngsters Marcus Brady and Jon Beutjer.


Post a Comment

<< Home