Rookie Maver powers Stamps past Argos

Henry Burris failed to reach a milestone in touchdowns, but Rob Maver converted five of six field goal attempts in his Canadian Football League debut to lead the Calgary Stampeders to a 30-16 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday.

Toronto right in game until late fumble

While Rob Maver kicked five field goals in his Canadian Football League debut, he couldn't help but think about the one he missed.

"I really want that one kick back," said Maver of a 42-yard field goal he missed in the third quarter of a 30-16 win for his Stamps over the visiting Toronto Argonauts on Thursday. "It's an okay start.

"I could have hit a couple kickoffs better and I could have made that field goal, but it's okay."

Maver, who was chosen fifth overall out of the University of Guelph in the 2010 CFL Canadian Draft, drew rave reviews for his performance from his coaching staff and teammates.

"I think our rookie kicker proved to a lot of people that he can play in this league," said Calgary coach and general manager John Hufnagel, who needed to find a new kicker after Sandro DeAngelis signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the off-season.

"Rob's a special player," added Calgary quarterback Henry Burris. "We didn't ask him to come here and be Sandro or replace him. We asked him to be Rob Maver. I'm happy to have him here."

Burris completed 27 of 40 passes for 324 yards, but failed to throw for a touchdown and remains one away from 200 for his career.

Joffrey Reynolds had a rushing touchdown for the Stamps (1-0), while Malik Jackson also scored when he recovered a fumble late in the game and ran it into the end zone.

While Reynolds would have loved to see the Stampeders get more touchdowns, he praised Maver for turning Calgary's drives into points.

"It definitely was a confidence booster for him," said Reynolds, who had some words of caution for his rookie teammate. "They do get a lot harder as the season goes on."

Jeff Johnson caught a touchdown pass from first-year Toronto quarterback Cleo Lemon, who completed 16 of 28 passes for 192 yards, but also threw an interception and had a fumble run back for a touchdown late.

"Cleo, he needs to experience these things," said new Toronto coach Jim Barker following the setback. "Every snap he takes, he's going to be a better player. It's on me to prepare him better and he wasn't prepared enough to play."

Chad Owens ran back a punt for a Toronto touchdown, while kicker Grant Shaw added a late field goal for the Argos (0-1).

"Man it was rough out there," said receiver Jeremaine Copeland, who was acquired by Toronto in an off-season trade with Calgary for P.K. Sam. "It's definitely a learning experience. All around, we made some drops, we fumbled the ball a lot. We did a lot of stuff to kick ourselves in the butt with turnovers and penalties."

Neither side could get much going in the first game of the season for both teams until the Stamps threatened to score late in the first quarter. Burris threw a pass to receiver Nik Lewis at the goal-line, but the play was broken up due to a big hit by Toronto cornerback Samuel Joseph as time expired in the quarter.

First field goal

Just 17 seconds into the second quarter, Maver kicked his first CFL field goal from 17 yards out to put Calgary up 3-0.

"I'd be lying if I said I'd rather my first field goal be a 55 instead of a 17," said Maver, adding that he fully enjoyed his first CFL experience. "I've played this game a million times before today in my head, so I've definitely mentally prepared myself. I had a ton of fun tonight."

The Stamps then increased their lead to 10-0 when Burris engineered a nine-play, 67-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by Reynolds.

The Argos then responded with a five-play, 85-yard drive that resulted in Lemon tossing a five-yard TD pass to Johnson. After failing to make good on the convert, Toronto trailed by four heading into halftime despite being dominated by Calgary in time of possession by more than a three-to-one margin.

Calgary increases lead

In the third quarter the Stamps increased their lead to 14-6 thanks to a 31-yard field goal and a 48-yard single by Maver.

Early in the fourth quarter, Owens broke off a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown to pull the Argos within a point.

"That touchdown run by Chad Owens was one of the best I've seen in the league," Barker said. "That was just heart."

Thanks to a 43-yard punt return by Calgary's Deon Murphy, the Stamps started their next drive with good field possession and cashed in with a 17-yard field goal by Maver, who added another one from 32 yards out a short time later.

After Shaw kicked a 32-yard field goal, Maver responded with a 14-yarder for Calgary. Wes Lysack then sacked Lemon and forced a fumble which Jackson picked up and ran across the goal-line to put the game away.