Pringle runs up big game, as CFLs get kicks, 42-27

September 26, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- A little tinkering worked wonders for the Baltimore CFLs yesterday.

They squared up Mike Pringle's shoulder pads, and he galloped into the Canadian Football League rushing lead.

They put a bull's eye on Ottawa punter Terry Baker and blocked two of his punts, fulfilling their special teams' motto of mayhem.

The CFLs scored touchdowns on both blocked kicks, got 289 all-purpose yards from the tireless Pringle and outlasted the Ottawa Rough Riders, 42-27, at Frank Clair Stadium.

It was good enough to put Baltimore (8-4) back in a first-place tie with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL East with 16 points apiece.

And it made an overnight sensation of Matt Goodwin, Baltimore's special teams demon.

In a performance that perhaps only coach Don Matthews could fathom, Goodwin scored two touchdowns -- his second and third TDs on blocked kicks this season. He blocked the first one himself, and when the ball squirted out of Karl Anthony's hands, he ran 39 yards to a second-quarter touchdown. Anthony proved to be his setup man.

Goodwin scored again in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard scamper after Anthony deflected Baker's punt high into the air.

"The coaches make it sound so easy when they draw it up," Goodwin said of his game-turning plays. "We had some good schemes today."

It was the confirmation of what Matthews has been preaching from the day he arrived in Baltimore almost eight months ago. Special teams win games in the CFL.

"It takes a special kind of player to do that," Matthews said after Baltimore's fourth win in its past five games. "A lot of guys with speed don't do it. And we've got more than just those two [Goodwin and Anthony].

"You've got to believe you're going to get the block. You've got to take off believing it's going to happen for you."

It has happened enough this season to show it's no accident. The CFLs have rejected six punts so far, four by Goodwin and one each by Anthony and Alvin Walton.

It's just a matter of which angle they take. Yesterday was the first time they used this particular blocking scheme.

"We've got six punt blocks in [the playbook]," Matthews said.

Anthony and Goodwin found the path to the punter uncongested. Both were untouched going in for their blocks. And Anthony nearly got another one. "My thumb hit the first one," he said of the near-miss.

"For me and Matt, it's a race to the punter," said Anthony, a cornerback. "They were designed for me and him to get the ball. We stunted on one, and when Mike Kerr hit his guy, the hole opened up for me."

That was a critical point in the game. Ottawa (4-8) had crawled back from a 24-6 deficit to get within 28-27 in the third quarter. Just 1:14 into the fourth quarter, Anthony came up the middle to deflect Baker's kick.

Goodwin, on the outside, waited for the carom like a center fielder. Nobody touched him once he had it.

That gave Baltimore control at 35-27. Charlie Baumann added two field goals and a single -- he was 4-for-7 on the day -- to give the CFLs breathing room.

Goodwin's block opened up the 24-6 lead. He closed on Baker so fast, he momentarily contemplated his options. "I was in so quick I thought about knocking him out," said Goodwin, an outside linebacker who also had a fourth-quarter interception.

If the CFLs' special teams unit delivered the knockout punch, it was Pringle, a 6-foot, 190-pound workhorse, who softened up the Rough Riders.

On a day when Tracy Ham's passing game vanished with the fog and mist of Ottawa, Pringle again carried the load.

Rushing for 176 yards and one touchdown, Pringle passed Cory Philpot of the British Columbia Lions for the league rushing lead. Pringle has 1,197 yards to Philpot's 1,196.

For perhaps the first time this season, Pringle was picking his spots, thanks to an adjustment recommended by offensive coordinator Steve Buratto.

"Mike was running plays with his shoulder pads sideways to the line of scrimmage," Matthews said. "Steve faced him up so he has the ability to make more cuts."

Pringle still broke tackles -- he's as subtle as a jackhammer -- but found a whole new world waiting at the line of scrimmage.

"Coach Buratto showed me how I run the ball and the reads I was missing," he said. "It was a matter of proper footwork and being more disciplined. Today, I saw a lot more places to run than I usually see."

Pringle's sixth rushing touchdown of the season came on third-and-goal from the 1 in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he broke runs of 22 and 44 yards, and in the fourth, he added a 23-yarder.

It was his fourth 100-yard rushing effort of the year, and gave him 768 over the past five games -- averaging 7.4 a carry. He also had five catches for 63 yards and ran back two kickoffs for 50.

And for only the second time this season, the CFLs ran for more

yards (198) than they passed (142).

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