Als take last-second Grey Cup victory
Saskatchewan penalized on final play, gives Duval a 2nd try at winning kick
Saskatchewan Roughriders fans are used to disappointment, but this one has to be a hurt for the ages.
Leading the entire way, the West champions had a fourth-ever Grey Cup victory snatched from their hands by a 33-yard Damon Duval field goal on the final play of the game as the Montreal Alouettes came back for a 28-27 victory on Sunday in Calgary.
Duval had actually missed his first try, but the Riders were called for too many men on the field and the all-star kicker, who had not played well up to that point, was given another chance.
He put that one right down the middle, leaving the Riders, and the huge throng of green and white clad fans in the stands, stunned.
"The man upstairs gave me another opportunity," said Duval, who earlier in the game had two terrible punts that gave the Riders good field position.
"I got the ball through and what can I say, it was all these guys here just fighting back, play after play."
Duval said as soon as he saw the flags it took away any chance to worry about why he missed the first try at the winner.
"I had to focus on making the kick."
For Riders' coach Ken Miller, who called the last-play counting problem a "lack of communication," the hurt was easy to sum up.
"Total, 100 per cent disappointment."
Montreal had fallen behind 27-11 early in the fourth quarter after Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant ran 16 yards to the end zone for a touchdown that looked as though it would wrap things up.
But Anthony Calvillo, the veteran who was just this week judged the Canadian Football League's most outstanding player, shook off a shaky game to that point and began to hack away at the margin.
First, a six-play, 74-yard drive ended with an Avon Cobourne scamper into the end zone that, with the two-point conversion throw to Kerry Carter, closed the gap to 27-19.
That was when Durant, who had thrown four interceptions in two regular season games against the Larks, tossed another (his second of the Grey Cup), right into the hands of Montreal's Jerald Brown, giving the Alouettes the ball on their own 54.
Eight plays later (including one gutsy third and three pass to Jamel Richardson up the middle), Calvillo found Ben Cahoon with a pass and he dove over the goal line to close the gap to two.
The two-point conversion failed, setting up a big defensive stop by the Als, a punt and the final drive that led to the field goal.
"Heartbreaking, happy, sad, suspenseful — it was everything wrapped into one," said Montreal's veteran centre, Bryan Chiu. "I guess that's what the CFL's about — a game like that."
Riders had it through three quarters
Luca Congi's fourth field goal of the game had given the Riders a 20-10 lead heading into the final 15 minutes.
That 23-yard kick answered a quick touchdown to open the second half by the Als, who closed the gap temporarily to seven points thanks to a nine-play drive that ended with a Calvillo strike into the end zone for Richardson.
Saskatchewan had dominated the first half thanks to Durant's eight-yard strike to Andy Fantuz and three Congi field goals that produced a 17-3 lead. The touchdown was set up by a first-quarter fumble from Montreal quarterback Calvillo, who had a terrible first 15 minutes.
Keith Shologan picked up the ball and ran it back to the Larks' eight-yard line and the Riders went in on the next play.
Congi kicked field goals of 40, 44 and nine yards, the final one set up by a long pass completion to Fantuz that after video review gave the Riders the ball inside the Montreal two with two seconds to go until halftime.
"We were in the locker-room at halftime and we regrouped," said Cobourne. "We didn't come out with the intensity we needed and it showed.
"But then we got that feeling in our hearts. Once we started playing, we are the best team in the CFL for a reason — because we make plays."
Calvillo finished the game 26-of-39 for 314 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Durant was 17 of 29 for 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Cobourne, who had 85 yards rushing, 57 through the air and one major, was chosen the player of the game. Cahoon (57 yards on five catches and a touchdown) was top Canadian.