Little Chris Wright comes up big again His two long returns help spark Stallions

October 08, 1995|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It's not often that the word big is associated with Stallions running back Chris Wright.

That is, unless the topic is big plays, a term used by Stallions coach Don Matthews for plays of 25 yards or more.

In that regard, there is no one bigger than the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Wright, who entered yesterday's game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders with a team-high 26 big plays.

He added two long gainers -- an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown on a bizarre play and a 100-yard return of a missed field-goal try -- in the Stallions' 29-27 victory yesterday that clinched the Southern Division and home-field advantage throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Wright, a rookie out of Georgia Southern, finished with a career-high 253 return yards to increase his all-purpose yardage for the season to 2,161. His 100-yard return was the longest play in the franchise's two-year history.

Yesterday, Wright's returns were not only big plays, they were key ones as well.

The Stallions' offense was sputtering in the first half, as Saskatchewan built a 17-0 lead before Wright provided a spark before halftime.

In a play destined for the highlight reels, Saskatchewan punter Brent Matich's kick was blocked by Alvin Walton.

After the ball bounced several yards behind Matich, the punter retrieved the ball and managed to get off a short kick.

All the breaks had gone in the Roughriders' favor, and this play seemed to continue the trend.

The ball took a big Saskatchewan bounce and rolled to the Stallions' 21-yard line.

But Wright picked up the ball and headed toward the right sideline. He nearly stepped out of bounds while eluding two tacklers before following his blockers down the sideline for an 89-yard touchdown return.

Wright's touchdown sent the Stallions into the locker room on a positive note. The momentum carried over into the third quarter, when the Stallions outscored Saskatchewan 16-0 to take a 23-17 lead into the fourth quarter.

"We needed the big play; we made the big play," Wright said. "That gave us that spark. That's what special teams are all about.

"But I don't want to be singled out. My teammates give me the opportunity to make plays like that. That's why I show them my appreciation. Sometimes I just want to pitch it to them because they get excited, too."

It didn't seem possible, but Wright went on to top himself in the second half after again taking advantage of a miscue by another Saskatchewan kicker.

This time it was a missed 45-yard field-goal try by Dave Ridgway with the Roughriders leading 24-23 midway through the fourth quarter.

Wright caught the ball deep in the Stallions' end zone. He burst through a wide gap up the middle, followed the blocks of Courtney Griffin and Matt Goodwin and hurtled Ridgway before being pulled down at Saskatchewan's 20.

That set up a 32-yard field goal by Carlos Huerta that gave the Stallions a 26-24 lead with 6:24 remaining.

"When you're doing it, it's instinct," Wright said of the return. "When I look back, I'll be amazed myself."

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