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- The English: Are They Human? Case Study 2: George II and Dying On the John – September 3, 2020
Hi again, folks. The CFL Beat is back this week with a look at the CFL’s 2009 championship game, featuring arguably the weirdest final-minute sequence in league history – the 97th Grey Cup between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Montreal Alouettes. Read on!
Date: November 29th, 2009
Venue: McMahon Stadium, Calgary, AB
Saskatchewan Roughriders fast facts:
- Season record: 10-7-1 (1st in West)
- Head Coach: Ken Miller
- Quarterback: Darian Durant
Before this game, Saskatchewan and Montreal had never faced off head-to-head for the Grey Cup; they would return the following year in 2010 for a rematch of this 2009 contest. This contest was also each team’s 17th appearance in the championship. The Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders ended the 2009 season with identical 10-7-1 records, but Saskatchewan came away with the division title and first-round playoff bye due to their 2-0-1 season series record against the Stamps. It was the first time since 1976 that the Riders captured a division title – a 33-year drought.
Montreal Alouettes fast facts:
- Season record: 15-3 (1st in East)
- Head Coach: Marc “Windowless Van” Trestman
- Quarterback: Anthony Calvillo
In 2009, the Alouettes steamrolled the league, winning the East division by a whopping six games over the 9-9 Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This was the first time a team ended with this record in twelve years, with the 1997 Toronto Argonauts, led by Doug Flutie, being the previous team to accomplish the feat. Between 2006 and 2010, the Alouettes made the Grey Cup game four times in five years – this stretch is considered to be the absolute pinnacle of the franchise.
0:20 – Luca Congi gets ready to kick off; the Riders are wearing their ’70s throwback greens for this game. Absolutely awesome. Of all the games I’ve shown to you thus far, this is the first one to be televised by TSN; they became the television rights-holder in 2007 after CBC had exclusive access for over 50 years previously.
6:43 – Congi sets up for a field goal, but juuuuust misses to the left; Als return man Larry Taylor runs it out of bounds back to his own 25.
7:50 – Looks like Saskatchewan’s Lance Frazier’s got an interception, but the pass from Anthony Calvillo is ruled incomplete instead. It’s another 2-and-out for Montreal.
9:15 – Nice shot of the Getzlaf bros, Ryan and Chris – Ryan, of course, is the longtime captain of the Anaheim Ducks, while brother Chris is a receiver for the Riders. Sideline reporter Farhan Lalji states that Ryan has a game in ten minutes, so he won’t be able to watch much of this Grey Cup.
12:11 – Luca Congi connects on this one, and the 40-yarder puts Saskatchewan up 3-0.
16:08 – Fullback Chris Czarka has a small gain; Czarka was a member of the Riders from 1997-2010, and in fact served as a city councillor in Regina from 2009-2012, which meant he was an active politician while also playing in this Grey Cup game. Very cool story.
17:25 – On a broken play, with Darian Durant scrambling, pursued by two Montreal defenders, Jason Clermont gets open down the sideline and makes a great catch for a surprising big play.
21:40 – Keith Shologan scoops up a loose ball after Marcus Adams knocks it from Anthony Calvillo’s hands, and Saskatchewan is back on offence in the red zone!
22:40 – Touchdown! Durant hooks up with Andy Fantuz over the middle – after the kick, it’s now 10-0, Saskatchewan. An excellent start for Gang Green.
27:45 – The Riders are absolutely destroying Montreal in every offensive category through one quarter. No surprise when you can’t get the pass game going. Still, it’s incredibly unusual, since the Als had the league’s best offence this season.
30:40 – Anthony Calvillo steps up and tries to go deep to the end zone as he takes a hit, but the ball’s too far and the pass is incomplete.
31:35 – Damon Duval kicks a 28-yarder to put Montreal on the board. The score is now 10-3, Saskatchewan.
35:10 – Jamel Richardson makes a nice catch over the middle and picks up a first down for Montreal.
37:45 – RB Avon Cobourne takes the ball and picks up the few inches the Alouettes need for another first down.
41:28 – Calvillo checks down to FB Kerry Carter, who picks up a first down… and then fumbles. Riders DB Chris McKenzie is the last man to touch the ball; Saskatchewan has it!
50:55 – Damon Duval shanks a punt out of bounds – it’s just a 24-yard kick. Yikes.
55:29 – Duval shanks a SECOND punt – this one is just seven yards!
57:48 – Luca Congi kicks a 44-yard field goal to stretch Saskatchewan’s lead to 13-3.
59:35 – Louie Sakoda kicks off, and puts the ball in the Montreal end zone to score a…
The score is now 14-3, Saskatchewan.
1:03:15 – Another first down for Saskatchewan, as Andy Fantuz makes the catch from Darian Durant.
1:04:15 – QB draw, and Durant runs for another first down.
1:04:49 – Durant’s looking end zone – and Fantuz makes another catch! He’s pushed out of bounds at the two-yard line. There’s some confusion about whether or not he’s actually made the catch, though – Canadian rules dictate that a receiver only has to have one foot down in order to consider the play a successful catch. It’s been ruled not a catch, and Saskatchewan is challenging.
1:08:32 – It’s a catch! There’s two seconds left on the clock. Will they go end zone, or kick a field goal?
1:09:48 – Luca Congi hits the nine-yard chip-shot field goal to make the score 17-3 Saskatchewan. That’s it for the first half!
1:14:10 – Darian Durant is sacked by Chip Cox. Saskatchewan will have to punt.
1:18:36 – Anthony Calvillo airs it out to Jamel Richardson, and the Als have another first down.
1:21:21 – Touchdown, Alouettes! Jamel Richardson is covered very tight, but Anthony Calvillo still finds him over the middle at the back of the end zone. After the kick, it’s 17-10, Saskatchewan.
1:23:55 – Darian Durant rolls left, escapes the pocket, and has a nice run for a Riders first down.
1:24:20 – RB Wes Cates hits the seam right up the middle, and has another nice run for a Riders first down.
1:25:17 – Saskatchewan is rolling. Three plays, three first downs – this time it’s Rob Bagg making a catch over the middle. The Riders are at the Montreal 30.
1:26:00 – And just like that, it’s an interception! Billy Parker comes up with the grab, and Montreal is going to need to put together a long drive.
1:29:40 – Darian Durant has been running really well all game – using RB Wes Cates as a decoy, Durant rolls left out of the pocket and picks up another first down.
1:31:19 – Paul LaPolice, Riders OC, is up in the booth calling plays. LaPolice would go on to become the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 2010-2012, and in December 2019, he was hired as the new head coach of the Ottawa REDBLACKS after winning a Grey Cup with Winnipeg – this time as their OC.
1:33:19 – Luca Congi connects from 23 yards out for his fourth field goal of the game, and the score is now 20-10, Saskatchewan.
1:34:26 – Brian Bratton has a really nice return for the Als – he breaks four tackles before finally getting forced out of bounds after picking up 54 yards.
1:37:19 – Anthony Calvillo is sacked! It’s DE John Chick’s second sack of the game for the Riders.
1:38:02 – Calvillo is sacked again! Back-to-back – this time it’s Mike McCullough and Ray Williams.
1:40:18 – Damon Duval’s punt is back in the end zone for a…
The Als have taken two straight procedure penalties in a row (illegal formation/false start in American rules), and Saskatchewan decides to take the field position after the second one. The score is now 20-11, Riders.
1:42:23 – Wes Cates runs for yet another first down. Montreal’s run defence is not having a good day.
1:43:04 – Gerran Walker gets the ball on a sick reverse, and picks up yet another first down! Saskatchewan’s offence looks incredible.
1:43:50 – Wes Cates runs for yet another first down. The Als are the number-one ranked team against the run this season. They only allowed one 100-yard rusher all year. This is incredible to witness.
1:44:34 – Touchdown, Riders! Darian Durant keeps it, and runs right up the middle into the end zone. After the kick, it’s now 27-11, Saskatchewan. Wow.
1:47:00 – Avon Cobourne catches a swing pass out of the backfield, and takes it for a first down and a bunch more for Montreal.
1:48:15 – Cobourne has another first down – he’s been Montreal’s best player this game.
1:48:55 – DB Tad Kornegay knocks down Anthony Calvillo’s pass, and Saskatchewan almost manages to jump on it for another turnover.
1:49:40 – A deep pass over the middle to Brian Bratton, and Montreal’s now inside the 5!
1:50:25 – Touchdown, Alouettes! Avon Cobourne goes left and gets into the end zone with a flop. Montreal’s not dead just yet.
1:51:12 – The two-point conversion is good! Kerry Carter makes the catch, and the score is now 27-19, Riders.
1:52:42 – The first glimpse of the Grey Cup being carried to the field by the Mounties in full regalia.
1:53:04 – Interception! Darian Durant is looking for Andy Fantuz down the right sideline, but floats the pass well over him; DB Jerald Brown comes up with the ball.
1:57:50 – Calvillo runs the ball down to Saskatchewan’s 25 – it’s 3rd and 3. They’re going to go for it!
1:58:44 – The gamble pays off! Jamel Richardson makes the catch, and it’s first down, Montreal.
2:00:00 – Touchdown, Alouettes! Ben Cahoon, who’s been surprisingly quiet in this game, is left wide open, makes the dump-off catch from Calvillo, and dives into the endzone. Oh baby. One assumes the Als are going to go for two here.
2:00:50 – The two-point play is no good! There’s no flags. It’s now 27-25, Saskatchewan.
2:03:58 – Rob Bagg gets hit hard on 2nd and 10, and Saskatchewan will have to punt. There’s 1:10 left on the clock – this is not ideal for the Riders at all. Especially when Anthony Calvillo is coming back down the field.
2:05:50 – Bagg is helped off the field by the Riders training staff – it appears to be possibly collarbone or arm.
2:07:20 – Brian Bratton gets smoked and fumbles the ball after receiving the punt, but fortunately LB Etienne Boulay saves the day for Montreal by recovering it.
2:08:10 – Calvillo airs it out deep, but it’s incomplete.
2:08:55 – Jamel Richardson picks up a first down and gets the Als to midfield after a great catch in double coverage.
2:09:25 – Calvillo’s pass to Brian Bratton appears to be incomplete, but officials are going to review it anyways.
2:12:36 – PotatoCam review dictates insufficient evidence. Call stands. It’s 2nd and 10. There’s 10 seconds left.
2:13:05 – Kerry Watkins makes the catch! It’s first down, Montreal, and they’re in field goal range now. There’s six seconds left.
2:13:52 – The kick is up… and it’s no good! But wait! Flags on the play!
2:14:21 – “Illegal substitution – too many men on the field – Saskatchewan. It’s a ten yard penalty, we’ll repeat first down.” Oh fuck. What a gut punch for the Roughriders.
2:15:02 – Damon Duval connects from 33 yards out – despite being down the entire game, the Montreal Alouettes have won the 97th Grey Cup. The province of Saskatchewan weeps.
Special teams coordinator Kavis Reed, who later became head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos and GM of the Montreal Alouettes, to this day still won’t say which player was responsible for the too many men penalty. It’s besides the point, really – the team had gone into the Grey Cup as major underdogs, and held on, as a complete and unified team – up to quite literally the last play of the game. It remains one of the most bitter memories of Rider Nation, and isn’t likely to fade any time soon. Montreal RB Avon Cobourne was named the Grey Cup MVP, with 22 touches for a combined 149 yards and a touchdown. Ben Cahoon was the most valuable Canadian, with 5 catches for 57 yards and a key touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter.
Thanks for reading! Check back next week when we move way, way, way back – all the way to 1958, the first year of the formal existence of the Canadian Football League. Hope you’re ready for some black and white footage!