CALGARY – Jon Cornish feels he has a score to settle with the B.C. Lions on Saturday.
The CFL’s leading rusher hasn’t forgotten his minus-one yards versus the B.C. Lions on July 28. The Calgary Stampeders’ only double-digit loss so far this season was that 34-8 defeat.
“Last time was, when people look back at it, maybe the worst performance of my career,” Cornish said Thursday.
“They are a team I did not perform well against last time, so I really look forward to playing them because of that. Any time you have an opportunity to right the wrongs, that’s something to look forward to.”
The 27-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., is on pace for the highest number of rushing yards in a single season by a Canadian, having already cracked the 1,000-yard barrier with five games to go.
Cornish needs 311 yards to pass Normie Kwong for the most rushing yards by a Canadian. Cornish’s current 1,127 put him fifth all-time in the CFL.
He was the league’s Canadian player of the week for the third time in a month, so it wasn’t a reach for the CFL to give him the same honour for September.
The six-foot, 220-pound Cornish was dealing with flu symptoms earlier in the week, but participated in practice Thursday. Head coach John Hufnagel declared his star running back would be 100 per cent healthy for Saturday’s game in Vancouver.
If the Edmonton Eskimos lose to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday, the winner of the Calgary-B.C. game clinches a playoff spot.
B.C. leads the West Division at 9-4 with Calgary two points back at 8-5. Saturday’s meeting – their second of the season – represents a significant swing for the winner with playoffs on the horizon.
The Lions are marketing the game as “the race for first place” on their website. Calgary practised Thursday with crowd noise piped in over the McMahon Stadium loudspeaker.
“Everybody understands the significance of this game, to get a share of that first place and that’s what we want to do,” Stampeder quarterback Kevin Glenn said. “It’ll put us in the right direction for the rest of the season.”
Calgary hosts the Lions in their final meeting of the regular season Oct. 26.
Saskatchewan did the Stamps a favour in Week 14 with a 27-21 win over the Lions, while Calgary romped 39-15 over the Eskimos.
Cornish ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns versus Edmonton. His 73-yard scoring dash made him the eighth Canadian running back in the CFL to pass 1,000 yards.
He says B.C. Place is more familiar to him than most of the Lions. Cornish played minor-league football there starting in Grade 8.
“Apart from maybe Geroy (Simon), I’ve played in that building longer than most people on that team,” Cornish said. “I love going home. For me, it’s a great place to be, nice and loud.”
The Lions, 5-1 at home, have been slow out of the gates lately with a one point scored in three opening quarters. They emerged a respectable 2-1 from those games, however.
B.C. is also the CFL’s best defensive team in the majority of statistical categories, including an average of just 19.2 points against per game.
“They’ve done a really good job this year defending against the run and the pass,” Cornish said. “That’s why they’re at the top of the league right now.”
Calgary is 5-2 since the Lions embarrassed them at home in July. The Stampeders have put distance on it, but they haven’t forgotten it.
“It was awhile ago, but when you watch film you look back and say ‘we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,’” Glenn said. “We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities and we turned the ball over. You learn from it. You don’t dwell on it.”