Location: Vancouver, BC
Date: November 26
Winning Coach: Eagle Keys
It was a long time coming for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
For 56 years the club and its fans longed for a Grey Cup title, and for 56 years their dreams went unfulfilled. On eight different occasions they were the bridesmaid, never to know the feeling of being a bride.
But on a November day in Vancouver in 1966, the Roughriders and their loyal followers finally had reason to celebrate. A ninth Grey Cup appearance proved to be a charm as Saskatchewan defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders for their first national championship.
It was Ottawa that jumped out to a quick lead, however. On the East Riders’ fifth play from scrimmage, Whit Tucker got by Dale West and caught a pass from Russ Jackson for a 61-yard scoring play. Moe Racine missed the convert.
Saskatchewan rebounded when Jackson was picked off by West on the Saskatchewan 50-yard line and returned the ball 51 yards. Ron Lancaster, on a play-action pass, connected with Jim Worden for a nine-yard touchdown. Jack Abendschan made the convert, and the West Riders never trailed again.
Saskatchewan took a 14-6 lead in the second quarter when Al Ford caught a touchdown pass through the outstretched hands of Ottawa’s Bob O’Billovich. But another big passing play brought Ottawa within one as Tucker got past West again and caught a pass for an 85-yard touchdown. A 51-yard punt by Bill Cline tied the score before halftime.
Saskatchewan’s defence went to work in the second half, limiting Ottawa to just three first downs in the final 30 minutes. A potential turning point in favour of the East Riders went for naught when Mike Blum intercepted Lancaster in the third quarter, but the play was overturned due to a pass interference penalty.
The game remained deadlocked at 14 until the final quarter, when Lancaster threw a line drive at Hugh Campbell from the Ottawa five-yard line. Campbell, who set a league record with 17 touchdowns that season, held onto the ball long enough for the game-winning score.
George Reed put the icing on the cake midway through the fourth quarter when he busted 31 yards straight up the middle of the field to the Ottawa end zone. Reed finished the game with 133 rushing yards. Saskatchewan added a single point to complete the scoring.
The game ended with several thousand fans storming onto the field to celebrate the historic win.