Location: Toronto, ON
Date: November 25
Winning Coach: Jack Gotta
Most Valuable Player: Charlie Brandon, DE, Ottawa
Most Valuable Canadian: Garry Lefebvre, DB, Edmonton
Call the 1973 Grey Cup the Backup Bowl.
The Ottawa Rough Riders were forced to start Rick Cassata at quarterback when Jerry Keeling couldn’t play because of a knee injury. Many didn’t think Cassata was deserving of an opportunity to perform on the national stage due to his previous ineffective play.
Meanwhile, Edmonton’s starting quarterback, Tom Wilkinson, was knocked out of the game near the end of the first quarter by Ottawa defender Wayne Smith. The Eskimos offence fizzled after this, and Cassata and the Riders rallied for their third title in five years.
Before the game was four minutes old, Edmonton’s Roy Bell took a handoff, ran to the left side and sprinted 38 yards for a touchdown.
But the Riders responded with a TD of their own. Rhome Nixon got in the clear behind Edmonton’s Billy Cooper and Cassata connected with him on a pass for a 38-yard scoring play.
Wilkinson was then forced to the bench after being knocked out of bounds in a violent collision. Smith, who was playing with a cast on his arm, drove it into Wilkinson’s back causing the rib injury.
Bruce Lemmerman entered the game and finished the scoring drive, a field goal by Dave Cutler that gave the Eskimos a 10-7 lead. But Lemmerman could not ignite the Edmonton offence after this, which ultimately led to the team’s downfall.
Twenty-one seconds into the second half, Edmonton’s Gerry Lefebvre couldn’t handle a low snap, and Wayne Tosh tackled him in the end zone for an Ottawa safety.
The Riders took the lead for good in the final minute of the first half when Gerry Organ kicked a 46-yard field goal, putting Ottawa in front 12-10. They added another touchdown 9:45 into the third quarter when Jim Evenson powered past tacklers for an 18-yard play.
Lemmerman aggravated an old elbow injury on his right arm in the fourth quarter, and Wilkinson, who had his left side frozen during halftime, volunteered to return to the game. Wilkinson connected with Tyrone Walls at the Edmonton 47 but the ball was fumbled and recovered by Tosh. It set up a 39-yard field goal by Organ.
The Eskimos added a single point before scoring a touchdown with seven seconds remaining in regulation. Wilkinson hit Lefebvre on a short pass.