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The story didn’t have the fairy tale ending quarterback Kevin Glenn had imagined.
When the clock struck midnight on the Calgary Stampeders’ dream of winning the 100th Grey Cup Glenn was left wondering when the glass slipper fell off.
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“When these kind of things happen you go from your highest high to your lowest low,” a dejected Glenn said in the silence of the Calgary dressing room after the Stampeders were soundly beaten 35-22 by the Toronto Argonauts Sunday night.
“Nobody is happy. I guess I’m trying to think about positive things, what we did this season. Right now I can’t stop replaying the game in my head.”
It won’t be a pretty movie to see over and over again.
No one player can be blamed entirely for any loss. But some players shoulder more responsibility for losing.
Bad penalties, missed tackles and some questionable play-calling from the bench all contributed to the Calgary defeat. The Argonauts were more aggressive on defence, got big plays on offence and looked like the more confident team from the opening kickoff.
When a quarterback can’t sustain drives, fails to produce touchdowns and throws an interception that is returned for a touchdown, a team is going to have a hard time winning.
“They came on and played better than us,” said Glenn. “They made more plays than us.
“That’s just what happened this evening.”
Glenn was one of the feel good stories of the week. The 33-year-old was playing in his first Grey Cup after 12 years in the CFL. The man who came to Calgary as an insurance policy in the Henry Burris trade was 10-5 as a starter after Drew Tate hurt his shoulder early in the year.
Against the Argos Glenn showed why he was playing on his fourth team. In the past, some have questioned whether or not he has enough skill to win the big game.
“He had a tough start to the game,” said John Hufnagel, Calgary’s coach and general manager.
“I thought he rebounded and put the team in a position to score. If we score some touchdowns maybe things go a bit different.”
Slotback Nik Lewis said Glenn wasn’t getting much help from his receivers.
“He got some pressure early,” said Lewis. “I don’t think he played overall that bad.
“When your quarterback struggles that means everybody struggles. We’re not making the catches or the plays we need to make to give him the confidence to continue to go. It’s on the offence as a whole.”
At first glance Glenn’s numbers don’t look too bad. He completed 14 of 27 passes for 222 years. Toronto’s Ricky Ray was 18 of 30 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Look closer and you see 104 of Glenn’s passing total came on two plays in the first half. Lewis had a 62-yard catch and Larry Taylor a 42-yard grab.
Glenn didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Toronto’s Pacino Horn returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter to make the game 14-3.
Calgary’s Rene Paredes kicked four field goals. All were from 30 yards or less.
“When you can’t get into a rhythm, and when you do you can only kick field goals, it’s not what we are about,” said Glenn. “You have to put points on the board and we didn’t do it tonight.”
The few times Calgary looked to have found some traction they slipped.
Trailing 17-3 in the second quarter, Glenn finally moved the Stampeders into scoring position. Facing a second-and-goal the Stampeders tried an end-around play with wide receiver Romby Bryant. Ejiro Kuale blew that up, resulting in an eight-yard loss and forcing a field goal.
Earlier Glenn handed off to Matt Walter on a third-and-one. Walter was snowed under by a blizzard of tacklers led by Ronald Flemons. Why use your backup running back when Jon Cornish led the CFL in rushing this season and was named the league’s top Canadian?
Offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson looked like a genius for his masterful play calling in Calgary’s win over B.C. in the West Final. But in the game of cat-and-mouse against Toronto defensive coordinator Chris Jones Dickenson looked to be eaten alive.
The Stampeders also paid the price for some costly penalties.
A 105-yard punt return for a touchdown by Taylor was wiped out when Keon Raymond was called for holding.
The first Toronto scoring drive, which was set up by a Cornish fumble, was kept alive when Calgary defensive lineman Demonte Bolden was flagged for facemasking.
In total Calgary took 11 penalties for 99 yards. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
“You get a touchdown called back and a turnover for a pick six,” said offensive lineman Obby Khan. “That’s a 14-point swing right there.
“You swing those 14 points, maybe it’s a different game. Should of, could of, would of. It wasn’t meant to be.”
There also was some bad luck.
A wide open Marquay McDaniel fell down before he could make a catch. Toronto kicker Swayze Waters hit the uprights on a field goal attempt but the play was called dead because of an Argo procedure penalty. The ball was moved back five yards and Waters made the kick.
“I feel like we gave that game away,” said defensive lineman Charleston Hughes. “If we had played at our best the game probably would have been different.”
It was the third time this season Toronto beat Calgary and also the Argos’ sixth consecutive victory against the Stamps.
“I guess the Argos have our number,” said Cornish.
“Chris Jones called an excellent game defensively. When you get to the championship you have to play championship level football. We weren’t at their level tonight.”
The Stampeders finished the season second in the West with a 12-6 record. Including the playoffs, they were 13-4 over their last 17 games.
Calgary’s regular season record is even more impressive considering an avalanche of injuries resulted in the Stampeders using 72 players this season.
“They battled through a lot of things and did some great things,” said Hufnagel.
“They accomplished a lot this year. They just didn’t’ accomplish enough.”