Cornish led the Calgary Stampeders to a 44-32 win over the visiting B.C. Lions on Friday in front of 26,625 fans at McMahon Stadium.
"For me, I was really moved at the beginning of the game seeing the turnout, seeing how many people really believed in the Stampeders," Cornish said. "They could be working on their homes. They could be fixing other people's homes, but they came out for the game tonight."
A day before the game, Cornish pledged to donate $10 for every yard he gained against the Lions to the Canadian Red Cross for the flood relief efforts in Southern Alberta. In addition to his 172 yards on the ground, he added 20 more through the air.
"I'm going to round it up to $2,000," Cornish said. "I wish I could do more. For us as Stampeders the No. 1 thing we can do for this city is win and give this city something to rally behind."
Calgary (1-0) head coach and general manager John Hufnagel also commended his offensive line for opening up holes for Cornish.
"We were able to move the line of scrimmage a bit, open some holes up for Jon, and he ran very hard, showed excellent quickness, excellent cutting ability, secured the football," Hufnagel said. "He did everything you want your running back to do."
Quarterback Drew Tate completed 19-of-27 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to Joe West and one to Maurice Price.
"Drew, I thought, played a very solid game," Hufnagel said. "He made some great throws, his receivers made some great plays for him and that's what you need. He was on top of his game, good reads."
Rene Paredes kicked a pair of field goals for the Stamps.
B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay threw three touchdown passes to Emmanuel Arceneaux, Courtney Taylor and Shawn Gore. Cord Parks also returned an interception for a touchdown for the Lions (0-1), while Tim O'Neill kicked a field goal and a single.
"They got after us early," said Lulay, who completed 21-of-36 passes for 283 yards. "They put us in a big hole that was tough to overcome. It's hard to do that when you're on the road playing a good football game. These guys were playing inspired, you could tell."
On Calgary's first possession, Tate engineered a nine-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Price.
Later in the first quarter, the Stamps took advantage of a costly turnover by B.C. when Lulay couldn't handle a hard snap by centre Matt Norman. The ball bounced off of Lulay's leg and into the hands of Calgary linebacker Juwan Simpson, who recovered the fumble to give the Stampeders possession on the Lions' 32-yard line.
Three plays later, Tate tossed a perfect 12-yard pass to West in the end zone to give Calgary a 14-0 lead.
"Full credit to them, they took it to us," said B.C. coach Mike Benevides. "They got the momentum. They kept running downhill and put us in too big of a deficit. We can't make mistakes against a good football team like that."
Another botched snap by B.C. led to a safety for the Stampeders before the end of the first quarter. With the Lions in punt formation, Tim Cronk snapped the ball over O'Neill's head. O'Neill raced back to recover the ball and then kicked it out of his own end zone.
The sloppy play continued early in the second quarter when Calgary defensive back Derrius Brooks picked off an errant pass by Lulay before B.C. safety J.R. Larose responded a short time later by recovering a fumble out of the hands of Calgary receiver Nik Lewis.
Lulay then tossed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Arceneaux before O'Neill missed the convert.
The Stampeders capped off a seven-play, 73-yard drive with a one-yard TD run by Cornish.
Late in the second quarter, Larry Taylor had an impressive 34-yard punt return to get Calgary back into Lions' territory. B.C.'s Rolly Lumbala also took an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play to give the Stampeders a first down on the Lions' 14-yard line.
Two plays later, Tate threw a 12-yard TD pass to West to give Calgary a 31-6 lead heading into the half-time intermission.
Lulay started the second half in fine fashion by leading B.C. on an eight-play, 82-yard drive that culminated in a 17-yard TD pass to Taylor.
Parks then intercepted an errant pass by Tate and ran it back 45 yards into the end zone to cut the Stampeders' lead to 31-21.
On Calgary's next drive, Cornish ran the ball five times for 36 yards including an 11-yard sprint into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
O'Neill kicked a 40-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter before Paredes responded with back-to-back field goals from 39 and 27 yards respectively.
Lulay tossed a seven-yard TD pass to Gore with one second left in the game before Nick Moore caught a pass from the B.C. quarterback in the end zone for a two-point convert to round out the scoring.
Notes: Canadian Red Cross representatives collected donations for the flood relief effort at the game, while Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was on hand during the pre-game ceremonies to recognize the work of volunteers and first-responders during the crisis. ... Calgary linebacker Keon Raymond missed the game with an ankle injury. ... While the Lions won two-of-three games against the Stamps in the regular season, Calgary responded with a 34-29 road win over B.C. in the CFL's West Final on Nov. 18.
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