A veteran and a rookie combined to make sure the streaking B.C. Lions kept their winning alive.
Tim Cronk scored his first CFL touchdown Saturday, scooping up a blocked punt by Paris Jackson as the Lions defeated the Calgary Stampeders 32-19 for their fourth straight victory.
With B.C. clinging to an 18-13 lead in the third quarter, Jackson laid out to block a Burke Dales punt. Cronk picked up the loose ball and ran it in from 31 yards out to stretch the Lions' lead to 12.
Roommates on the road, the veteran Jackson and Cronk, first-year player out of Bishop's, talked about their opportunity to make a big play.
"I saw the free gap and I just went in and got it," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to contribute out here the best I can."
Cronk credited Jackson with setting him up for the easy score.
"We've been practising to do that all week — one of us to get through and get free," Cronk said. "He happened to be the man to do it and the ball popped out. It felt pretty good just to do my job and to help out the guys."
B.C. coach and general manager Wally Buono said the play was a turning point.
"A blocked kick is devastating especially when you score a touchdown off of it," Buono said. "The game was starting to turn but that probably put the nail in the coffin."
Stampeder defensive back Keon Raymond agreed.
"That took the gas out of us right there," Raymond said. "That kind of opened it up a little bit more. It gave them momentum and kind of silenced our crowd."
'That was awesome'
B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay then threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Arland Bruce in the fourth quarter for the Lions (5-6).
"Seeing Tim Cronk run the ball into the end zone, that was awesome," said Lulay, who also threw a touchdown pass to Akeem Foster. "That's his first real big play as a pro and it couldn't have come at a better time."
Rolly Lumbala also had a one-yard rushing score for the Lions, while Paul McCallum added a field goal and a single.
"At the end of the day there's a lot to be proud of," Buono said.
Henry Burris threw a touchdown pass to Larry Taylor for the Stamps (7-4) and backup quarterback Drew Tate added a late rushing TD. Rene Paredes kicked a pair of field goals for Calgary, which fell to 2-4 at home.
"We turned a close game into a route because of lack of attention to detail," Calgary coach and general manager John Hufnagel said. "B.C. played well and we helped them out a bit. You can't do that against good teams."
With B.C. leading 11-6 at halftime, Lulay tossed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Foster early in the third quarter after he got past Calgary cornerback Geoff Tisdale.
"He's found ways to get open deep," Lulay said. "When I turned around and I saw him on top, I threw it way out there and he went and got it."
Stamps can't build on momentum
Burris then responded right back and engineered a five-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Taylor to make it 18-13.
But Calgary couldn't build on that momentum, even after rookie Anthony Parker intercepted an errant pass by McCallum on a failed trick play by the Lions.
Instead, Jackson and Cronk teamed up to force the back-breaking touchdown.
"At the end of the day we just came out here and did our job," Jackson said. "We came out with the victory and that's the No. 1 thing we were talking about all week."
With Burris out of the contest after completing 15-of-20 passes for 184 yards, Tate led the Stamps on a four-play, 101-yard drive and capped it off with a one-yard rushing touchdown to round out the scoring.
On Calgary's first play of the game, Burris tossed a pass intended for Romby Bryant that was picked off by Dante Marsh. After the B.C. offence went two-and-out, the Lions had to settle for a 56-yard punt single by McCallum.
The Stamps answered back with a 17-yard field goal by Paredes to take a 3-1 lead after the first quarter.
The Lions went up 8-3 after a one-yard plunge by Lumbala to cap off an eight-play, 56-yard drive.
McCallum then booted an impressive 48-yard field goal before Paredes responded with one of his own from 41 yards out with nine seconds left in the first half.