Iggy's back and right on target

October 02, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

Donald Igwebuike wound up on the seat of his pants again.

But this time, his stock with the Baltimore CFLs didn't fall with him.

Iggy made a triumphant return as Baltimore's place-kicker last night, going 4-for-4 in a 40-13 victory over the Ottawa Rough Riders in front of a rain-soaked crowd at Memorial Stadium.

His first field goal, from 49 yards out, gave Baltimore a 10-5 lead in the second quarter. His holder, John Congemi, embraced him. The fans roared their approval and chanted his name. Teammates rushed onto the field to greet him as he walked to the sideline.

Iggy was back. It was as if he never had left.

"This was like a dream," he said of the warm reception. "It really meant a lot to me."

When he fell while making a 41-yarder with 5:16 left before halftime, it brought back memories of the mishap that led to his release last month.

With a chance to nail down a victory over Sacramento on Sept. 10, Igwebuike slipped on a 21-yard attempt late in the fourth quarter and missed wide. The Gold Miners promptly drove for the winning field goal -- the last time Baltimore lost.

That spelled the end for Igwebuike, at least temporarily. Charlie Baumann was brought in, and it took two games -- and two misses from 22 yards -- for coach Don Matthews to decide that he wasn't the answer, either.

Baumann's release last Monday began a three-man competition for the job that didn't include Igwebuike. That is, until Wednesday, when he was invited by personnel director Jim Popp to go foot-to-foot with Dan Silvestri and was declared the winner by a narrow margin.

"If I didn't think that Coach Matthews would listen to me and give me another chance, I wouldn't have called. But I knew he would," Igwebuike said.

Said Matthews: "Iggy was great. That's the best I've seen him kick. I'm delighted that he's had success.

"He's got a good enough leg. That's never been a question."

There was one area where the kicker knew he wouldn't irk his coach again. Criticized by Matthews for losing distance on his kickoffs, Igwebuike turned that duty over to punter Josh Miller, leaving him with just one responsibility last night.

Splitting the uprights.

In a driving rainstorm.

"When it rains this hard, the conditions are really bad, especially in the middle of the field, where all the fighting goes on," said Igwebuike, who is 31-for-40 this season, including kicks of 42 and 36 yards in the third quarter.

"I was more concerned about my plant foot. Thank God everything worked out all right."

Was his superb showing last night, which included four conversion kicks, enough to keep him in Baltimore?

And Igwebuike has a constant reminder in Silvestri, who is on the CFLs' practice roster.

Another slump and Matthews won't have far to look for a replacement.

"This is the most pressure I ever felt," said Igwebuike.

"I tried to block it out of my mind."

Before the game, a voice in the press box asked, "Who's the kicker du jour?"

( Last night, it was Iggy.

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