Huerta bounces back, has field day Record performance comes after dismal showing week earlier

November 13, 1995|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Stallions kicker Carlos Huerta was among the first to shower, dress and depart from the locker room after the team's first-round playoff win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last Saturday.

His early exit was understandable. Missing three of five field-goal attempts and the first failed extra point of his two-year CFL career wasn't a moment Huerta wanted to savor.

It was a different scene around Huerta's locker after yesterday's 21-11 Southern Division championship victory over the San Antonio Texans.

Everyone wanted to talk to the man who set a CFL playoff record with seven field goals and provided the Stallions with all of their points.

"I'm just the beneficiary of a great defensive effort," said Huerta. "We had great field position all day and I was in range."

Huerta, who broke the record of six field goals in a playoff game set by Edmonton's Dave Cutler in 1973 and tied by Toronto's Lance Chomyc in 1987, connected on field goals of 30, 24, 41, 22, 37, 36 and 28 yards. He missed on 47- and 48-yard attempts.

His performance was crucial in a game in which the Stallions began six drives in San Antonio territory and advanced into Texans' territory on five other possessions, but were unable to score a touchdown.

"The offense didn't put the ball in the end zone, but they moved the ball into field-goal range and the little man took care of the rest," Stallions linebacker O. J. Brigance said.

For the second consecutive game, Huerta was kicking in high winds and on a sloppy field, although this time he was better prepared.

After practicing on artificial turf at Loyola College before last week's game, Stallions coach Don Matthews had Huerta practicing on the grass at Kirk Field this week.

"I think I made a mistake the week before by not practicing on the sloppy field," Matthews said.

"We certainly made amends for that this week. I got him the practice he needed on the sloppy field."

Huerta, who tied a CFL playoff record with nine field goals in the postseason, said his biggest problem against Winnipeg was that he was slipping.

"I practiced all week with a different technique so I wouldn't slip as much," said Huerta, who finished the regular season second in the CFL in scoring (228 points) and first in field goals (57).

"When you plant, you really have to dig your foot into the ground. I just tried to keep my whole body over my plant foot rather than coming from an angle, so I kicked the ball much straighter. My hips were real square and I just wanted to get a good, firm plant, because if you're slipping, you're not going to make any field goals."

Despite last week's sub-par performance, Huerta said his mental toughness did not suffer.

"There are lingering effects, but they're not negative," he said. "I was in the same type of mood all week as I had been the rest of the year. If anything, I used it as a motivator to buckle down this week and try and get rid of the bad things that happened."

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