Football

10 Grey Cup heartbreakers

The Roughriders blew a 16-point lead en route to a 28-27 loss to Montreal in the 97th Grey Cup on Sunday night in Calgary, but Saskatchewan isn't the only CFL team to have victory snatched from its hands.
Lions' Lui Passaglia, right, is congratulated by teammate Ian Sinclair after kicking a 38-yard field goal to crush the Grey Cup hopes of the Baltimore Stallions in 1994. ((Joe Bryksa/Canadian Press))

It promises to be a long off-season for special teams co-ordinator Kavis Reed, a mystery Saskatchewan Roughrider and his teammates.

A too-many-men penalty assessed to the Riders on the second-last play of Sunday's Grey Cup championship allowed the Alouettes to overcome a 16-point deficit and pull out a 28-27 win. A 33-yard Damon Duval field goal with no time left on the clock sealed it for Montreal.

With tears in his eyes, Reed took responsibility for the gaffe, saying his is charged with counting the number of players on the field.

"It's something I've got to live with for the rest of my life," Reed, whose team never trailed in the 97th CFL championship in Calgary until Duval's kick, told reporters. "It's something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives."

While it's little consolation, the Roughriders aren't the only team to have victory snatched from their hands.

Below, CBCSports.ca breaks down 10 Grey Cup heartbreakers.

2005 — Edmonton 38, Montreal 35 OT

Four short years ago at BC Place Stadium, the Alouettes felt Saskatchewan's pain.

Eskimos' Sean Fleming kicks the winning field goal from 36 yards to beat Montreal in the 2005 Grey Cup. ((Richard Lam/Canadian Press))

Damon Duval had given Montreal new life with a 27-yard field goal to force overtime, when the teams exchanged touchdowns. Soon after, Sean Fleming split the uprights from 36 yards for the winning score.

The Alouettes, given one last shot, weren't done and moved the ball up field. But on third-and-31, quarterback Anthony Calvillo was forced to scramble and then punted the ball to hand the Eskimos the victory. Four years later, he's the toast of Montreal.

1998 — Calgary 26, Hamilton 24

The Stampeders and Tiger-Cats went toe-to-toe for 45 minutes to set up an exciting final 15 minutes at Winnipeg Stadium, with Hamilton holding a 18-17 lead.

Calgary quickly went ahead 23-18 on a pair of Mark McLoughlin field goals, but the Ticats answered on a two-yard run by Ronald Williams on a third-down gamble to make it 24-23.

Undaunted, the Stampeders marched down the field with a winning drive that culminated in another McLoughlin field goal, this time from 35 yards, to silence the Hamilton faithful.

1994 — B.C. 26, Baltimore 23

The Stallions appeared on their way to becoming the first U.S.-based team to host the Grey Cup, building a 17-10 halftime lead by taking advantage of three Kent Austin interceptions.

But the momentum shifted in the Lions' favour late in the third quarter, starting with a fake field-goal attempt and subsequent 17-yard run by holder Darren Flutie, who gave his team a first down. Three plays later, Danny McManus converted a third-down gamble to even the score 17-17.

With the game tied 23-23 in the fourth quarter, B.C.'s Lui Passaglia missed a 37-yard field goal attempt with 62 seconds left on the clock. But like Duval on Sunday, he was given a second chance and made good, booting a 38-yarder with no time remaining.

1989 — Saskatchewan 43, Hamilton 40

Twenty years ago, the Roughriders were on the other side of a last-second Grey Cup finish as they broke the hearts of the Tiger-Cats and their fans (including the author of this piece) in a back-and-forth thriller — the first championship tilt at the-then SkyDome in Toronto.

Despite blowing a five-point lead at the half, the Ticats didn't wilt when trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter. With 44 seconds left, Tony Champion made a spectacular backward diving catch in the end zone, while battling broken ribs, to tie the game.

Not to be outdone, the Riders drove into Hamilton territory and put the spotlight on kicker Dave Ridgway, who lofted a game-winning 35-yard field goal. Fifteen Cup records either were tied or set that day, including total points by both teams.

1987 — Edmonton 38, Toronto 36

Losing on the scoreboard, the Eskimos were also losing bodies in the first half as quarterback Matt Dunigan went down to a head injury. But his replacement, Damon Allen, engineered a comeback that saw Edmonton go ahead 28-27 early in the fourth quarter.

Later, with the Eskimos up 35-30, Argonauts quarterback Danny Barrett brought Toronto fans seated among the 59,478 at BC Place Stadium to their feet with 2:43 left, busting up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown run and 36-35 lead.

After Toronto missed a two-point conversion, the Eskimos smelled victory, moved into scoring range and watched Jerry Kauric boot a 49-yard field goal for a two-point victory, the last of five lead changes in the fourth quarter.

1981 — Edmonton 26, Ottawa 23

It had the makings of a cakewalk. The Eskimos, winners of a league-record 14 regular-season games, seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive Grey Cup title versus the worst finalist in Cup history, the Rough Riders, fresh off a five-win season.

But it was Ottawa that stunned many of the 52,478 fans at Olympic Stadium in Montreal by taking a 20-1 lead into the half. However, Edmonton's offence awoke in the second half while the Rough Riders self-destructed.

A fumble by Eskimos quarterback Warren Moon led to a Gerry Organ 28-yard field goal to extend the Ottawa lead to eight points. But it was quickly erased on Moon goal line major and successful pass to Marco Cyncar to tie the game 23-23.

Then, Edmonton's Dave Cutler redeemed himself for a missed field goal in the first half, nailing a 27-yarder with two ticks on the clock.

1976 — Ottawa 23, Saskatchewan 20

Another infamous moment in Roughriders history occurred on Nov. 28, 1976, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.

Waiving off a play sent in from the sideline, Ottawa quarterback Tom Clements chose to call a pass to Tony Gabriel, a risky play for a second-year pro that paid off with a 28-yard touchdown catch to give the Rough Riders a 23-20 advantage with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Shades of Calgary's McMahon Stadium on Sunday, Saskatchewan was stalled on its final possession as Tom Campana failed to gain any yardage on two rushes before the Roughriders were forced to punt and set the stage for Gabriel's game-winning score.

1972 — Hamilton 13, Saskatchewan 10

Tiger-Cats quarterback Chuck Ealey got the hometown fans at Ivor Wynne Stadium in a party mood early with touchdown pass to Dave Fleming after Hamilton's Al Brenner intercepted a Ron Lancaster pass.

The Roughriders chipped away at the deficit, with Tom Campana hauling in an eight-yard pass for a major and Jack Abendschan kicking a 20-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 entering the third quarter.

With less than two minutes left in the fourth, the Tiger-Cats began to threaten. Tony Gabriel caught his only three passes of the day for 27, 12 and 15 yards to get his team to the Saskatchewan 41-yard line with 51 seconds remaining.

On the game's final play, Ian Sunter — Hamilton's 19-year-old rookie place-kicker who had been on the field only twice previously in the game — was summoned and sent fans into a frenzy, splitting the uprights from 34 yards.

1971 — Calgary 14, Toronto 11

The Stampeders can point to the wet turf at Vancouver's Empire Stadium as a contributing factor to snapping a 22-year Cup drought.

Clinging to a 14-11 lead late in the fourth quarter, Calgary lost possession when Jerry Keeling was intercepted by Toronto's Dick Thornton, who returned the ball 54 yards to the Stampeders' 11. Argonauts running back Leon McQuay slipped and fell, giving the ball back to Calgary.

The Stampeders went two-and-out to give Toronto some hope. But Harry Abofs suffered a brain cramp, punting the kicked ball out of bounds, thus returning possession to Calgary. Game over, as the Stampeders ran out the clock.

1961 — Winnipeg 21, Hamilton 14 OT

The 49th Grey Cup will remembered as one of the hardest-hitting CFL championships, the first ever that required overtime and its great finish.

Down 14-7, the Blue Bombers' punishing offence took over in the second half. On second-and-30 with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Ken Ploen hooked up with Farrell Funston for a 34-yard gain to set up a one-yard touchdown run and force OT.

After a scoreless first 10-minute half, Ploen stunned the Tiger-Cats faithful by evading three Hamilton defenders one the way to the end zone for a game-winning 18-yard run.

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