Location: Ottawa, ON
Date: November 27
Winning Coach: Mike Riley
Outstanding Offensive Player: James Murphy, WR, Winnipeg
Outstanding Defensive Player: Michael Gray, DT, Winnipeg
Outstanding Canadian: Bob Cameron, P, Winnipeg
The Grey Cup championship returned to the nation’s capital in 1988, and it had a definite Western feel to it. For the first time in history, two teams outside Ontario and Quebec vied for the title. And for the first time in Grey Cup competition, a .500 team in the regular season took home the coveted prize.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, underdogs heading into the game, never held a lead against the B.C. Lions for the first 57 minutes of regulation. But with 2:55 remaining, Trevor Kennard booted a 30-yard field goal to put the Bombers in front to stay.
It was the Lions who jumped to a 7-1 lead in the opening quarter as running back Anthony Cherry scored on a 14-yard run. Kennard booted a 22-yard field goal to pull the Bombers within one.
With the wind at his back in the second quarter, Kennard tied the score with a 43-yard field goal. But Lions quarterback Matt Dunigan connected with David Williams on a 26-yard scoring play, giving B.C. a 14-7 advantage.
The Bombers got that one back on their next possession. Quarterback Sean Salisbury threw a 35-yard touchdown strike to James Murphy to pull Winnipeg even. B.C.’s Lui Passaglia failed on a 41-yard field goal attempt near the end of the half, but it did give the Lions a 15-14 lead at intermission.
Passaglia and Kennard exchanged field goals in the third quarter. The game was deadlocked at 19 heading into the final 15 minutes.
The Bombers took a 22-19 lead on Kennard’s field goal. But the Lions responded by marching 75 yards downfield to the Winnipeg seven-yard line. Any thoughts of it being a game winning drive for B.C. were eliminated when Dunigan’s pass was batted down and intercepted by Winnipeg’s Mike Gray.
There was still time for the Lions to attempt one more comeback. Winnipeg head coach Mike Riley elected to give up a safety in favour of better field position, cutting the margin to just one. The move appeared to backfire when the ensuing kickoff was returned by B.C.’s Anthony Drawhorn 38 yards to the B.C. 45-yard line. But the ball was brought back to the 30 when Cherry was flagged on a rough play penalty. The Lions couldn’t get anything going and the Bombers held on for the win.
The 50,604 in attendance was the largest crowd to witness a football game in Ottawa.