Armstrong finds home in end zone

August 11, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

It wasn't long ago that Chris Armstrong could only wonder why he had been released by the Las Vegas Posse two weeks into training camp.

Now, defensive backs wonder how they are going to keep him out of the end zone.

Six games into the season, they still haven't come up with an answer. And the prospects don't look good for the immediate future, either.

Armstrong caught seven passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns last night to lead the Baltimore CFLs past the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 30-15, at Memorial Stadium.

Both scores came during the second quarter, when Baltimore built on a 6-2 lead. And both concluded with Armstrong running away from the Hamilton secondary with the same long, graceful strides.

Did he sense beforehand that something big was going to happen, that on a night when the Baltimore locker room was brimming with heroes, none would stand taller than the 6-foot-2, 210-pound slotback?

"No, I just went out and played as hard as I could," he said.

The first touchdown, which covered 23 yards, came four plays after an offside penalty against Baltimore had nullified a 41-yard scoring pass from Tracy Ham to Walter Wilson.

"That was real important," said Armstrong, who didn't have a reception in the opening quarter. "Once that play was called back, we were like, 'Oh man, here we go again.' But everybody kept their head up and kept their composure. Tracy made a great call and I just happened to be where I was supposed to be."

His second score was more impressive. It showed that Armstrong is more than just flash and --.

On second-and-10 from Baltimore's 50, Ham threaded a pass to Armstrong over the middle despite tight coverage from Hamilton's Don Odegard. Armstrong shook free from Odegard, who had an arm wrapped around the receiver's back, and sprinted to the end zone for a 60-yard score.

"As a receiver, I feel that every time I'm in man-to-man, I should win," he said. "It doesn't always happen like that, but tonight it did."

That one didn't even qualify as Armstrong's best catch of the night, however. Not even close.

On the previous series, he became entangled with Odegard while going for another pass over the middle. The ball popped in the air and slightly behind Armstrong, who reached back and snared it as he fell to the ground. The play covered 36 yards, but artistically, it rated much more.

"It fell right in my lap. Christmas in August," he said.

By halftime, Armstrong had four receptions for 125 yards. He hauled in a 40-yarder down the right sideline early in the third quarter and set up a Mike Pringle touchdown late in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard catch and run that put the ball on the 23.

"Tracy did a great job all night calling plays, keeping them off-balance and catching them in situations where I was one-on-one a lot," he said.

Said Ham: "He's tough to stop. And I've got a feel for him, for where he's at. I've got to get a feel for my other guys like that"

Baltimore's offense sputtered in the second half, but by then, the damage had been done. The Tiger-Cats rallied for 13 points after halftime, but couldn't overcome Armstrong's career night, which padded his season totals to 27 catches for a league-leading 606 yards.

Before last night, no CFL receiver had more than five touchdowns.

Not bad for someone who was shown the door by the expansion Posse this summer.

"During that situation, I learned a lot about myself," he said. "I grew a lot and I'm trying to prevent that situation from ever happening again."

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