Stampeders tame Lions, advance to Grey Cup
Kevin Glenn is finally getting his chance to play in the Grey Cup.
Glenn threw for three touchdown passes as the Calgary Stampeders upset the B.C. Lions 34-29 in the CFL West final on Sunday before a disappointed crowd of 43,216 at B.C. Place Stadium.
Glenn earned a Grey Cup berth for the first time in his well-travelled, 12-year CFL career that has included stops in Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Calgary.
"It means a lot to actually be able to actually get a team there and actually be playing in the game," said Glenn.
The Stampeders, who finished second in the West Division behind B.C. during the regular season, will play the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL title game next Sunday at Rogers Centre.
The loss denied the Lions a second straight Grey Cup.
Glenn drew the starting quarterback assignment against the Lions after Drew Tate fractured his forearm in last weekend's West semifinal win over Saskatchewan, ending his season.
In 2007, Glenn was denied the opportunity to play in the Grey Cup after he led the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to victory in the East Final but, ironically, also suffered a fractured arm. That year's Grey Cup, which the Bombers lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders with Winnipeg backup quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie making his first start of the season, was also in Toronto.
Glenn, a 33-year-old Detroit native, was not expected to play much this season after being acquired in an off-season trade from Hamilton as part of the package for former Calgary QB Henry Burris.
Instead, Glenn played most of the Stampeders' games after Tate suffered an early-season shoulder injury, and then was bypassed for the first playoff game. Now, Glenn is looking forward to performing before his parents, who are slated to make the short trip from Detroit, in the championship game.
Marquay McDaniel, Maurice Price and Romby Bryant caught Glenn's touchdown passes. Backup quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell ran for another TD, while kicker Rene Paredes supplied the rest of Calgary's points.
Praise for offensive line
"The line gave me great protection and we were able to get behind their [defensive backs] and throw the ball deep and take some shots, and that's what we'll have to do when we get to Toronto," said Glenn, who completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 303 yards.
Lions defensive back Korey Banks, on an interception, and receiver Nick Moore on a last-minute reception, scored touchdowns for the hosts.
Paul McCallum provided B.C.'s other points by kicking five field goals.
"It's a disappointing day," said Lions quarterback Travis Lulay, who completed 33 of 46 passes for 274 yards. "You just hate to come up short in the big one. You know this was a game to have an opportunity to play for a championship, and Calgary earned it today."
The game marked a rare time in the CFL's modern era when two Canadian tailbacks, Calgary's Jon Cornish and B.C.'s Andrew Harris, started for their respective clubs.
But it was Glenn who stole the show following an interception that Banks returned for a B.C. touchdown. Although Glenn is regarded as being slow afoot, the Lions did not register a sack.
"They came with a good scheme and they came with a good understanding of what we we're doing and what we're going to do and everything we did just didn't work out," said B.C. defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell.
Cornish, who churned out 112 yards on the ground and another 42 on receptions, said the Lions underestimated Calgary's capabilities.
Stamps overcome controversy and distractions
Glenn helped the Stampeders overcome a week filled with controversy and distractions. After Tate took a head shot in the West semifinal and told TSN he could not remember the first half, Stamps management faced questions about whether the team allowed him to play in spite of a head injury. Then, receiver Nik Lewis posted a tweet poking fun at the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and the O.J. Simpson investigation, and the club announced Tate's arm injury later in the week.
"None of that stuff really bothered us," said Glenn. "We stay close. Sometimes that kind of stuff happens. The guys, after a couple of days, zoomed right in and we got back to what was important, which was this game."
The Stamps raced out to a 7-0 lead as Glenn connected with McDaniel on a 68-yard touchdown pass on Calgary's second play from scrimmage. McDaniel was left wide open in the middle of the field as a result of blown B.C. defensive coverage. The touchdown, which came just 59 seconds into the game, was the second-fastest in CFL playoff history.
"I think they didn't cover down," said Glenn. "They came with an all-out blitz, and they may have brought too many guys and not covered down with enough.
"That was the momentum, I think, that we needed early in the game to push us over to the end."
Banks drew the Lions even at 7-7 on his sensational 77-yard interception return. But despite enabling the Lions to pull within a point, following three McCallum field goals and led just 17-16 at halftime, the Stamps never trailed again.
After Bryant's 57-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter, Calgary increased its lead to 31-16 on a controversial touchdown later in the same period. It looked like the Lions had stopped Mitchell for a third time from the one-yard line as he attempted to dive over defenders into the end zone.
As Paredes was booting a convert, Lions coach Mike Benevides threw a challenge flag to request a replay. But officials allowed play to continue and no challenge on the field was conducted, much to the chagrin of an irate Benevides. But the Lions coach said after the game that referee Kim Murphy told him the play had been reviewed at league headquarters in Toronto.
Kickers McCallum and Paredes produced the bulk of the fourth-quarter points by booting field goals before Moore scored on a two-yard toss from Lulay with 59 seconds left in the game. The touchdown pulled the Lions within five points.
But the wily Glenn then proceeded to run out the clock in preparation for his long-awaited chance to play in the Grey Cup.