November 27, 2005

Eskimos: Grey Cup Champions

Venue: BC Place Stadium
Location: Vancouver, BC
Date: November 27
Attendance: 59,157
Winning Coach: Danny Maciocia
Most Valuable Player: Ricky Ray, QB, Edmonton
Most Valuable Canadian: Mike Mauer, RB, Edmonton

VANCOUVER — The Edmonton Eskimos needed overtime to defeat the Montreal Alouettes 38-35 in the 93rd Grey Cup at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. It is the 13th championship in Eskimos’ history and their second title in three years.

Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, who for the first time this post-season wasn’t benched in favour of backup Jason Maas. He set a Grey Cup completions record going 35 of 45 for 359 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Mike Maurer was named the top Canadian making four catches for 41 yards.

Montreal kicker Damon Duval forced the second overtime session in Grey Cup history, kicking a 27-yard field goal with no time remaining in regulation. Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first overtime session to force a second then Sean Fleming booted a 36-yard field goal for what turned out to be the game-winning play.

The Alouettes had one final opportunity to either tie or win the game, but Montreal was knocked out of field-goal range. Facing a third-and-31, Calvillo was forced to scramble, and ended up punting the ball away to hand the Eskimos the win.

Montreal won the coin toss conducted by Prime Minister Paul Martin and elected to defer to the second half. The Eskimos received the opening kickoff, but their initial drive was thwarted by Ed Philion’s sack of Ray.

Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo was successful on his first two passes, but Terry Vaughn was stripped of the ball by Donny Brady which A.J. Gass recovered for Edmonton. Seven plays later, Sean Fleming booted an 18-yard field goal to give the Eskimos a 3-0 lead.

Ray was sacked again by Mawuko Tugbenyoh for a loss of 15 yards late in the quarter, forcing the Eskimos to punt. Montreal kick returner Ezra Landry returned the kick 29 yards to the Edmonton 52. But the Alouettes could only muster a single point on a 56-yard punt by Damon Duval. The Eskimos had a 3-1 lead after 15 minutes.

Ed Hervey waited until the Grey Cup for his first touchdown of an injury-plagued season with a nine-yard reception early in the second quarter. More significantly, it was Ray’s first touchdown pass in eight games. The Eskimos drove 75 yards in eight plays, highlighted by a 12-yard run by Ray to avoid heavy pressure.

Duval attempted a 47-yard field goal, but it was wide left and returned 28 yards out of the end zone by Edmonton’s Tony Tompkins.

With the Alouettes in Edmonton territory late in the second quarter, Calvillo’s pass was intercepted by Shannon Garrett on the five-yard line to end the scoring threat.

On their opening drive of the second half, Cavillo threw a 34-yard pass to Ben Cahoon to the Edmonton one-yard line, and Eric Lapointe punched it through for a touchdown to cut the Montreal deficit to 10-8. The Alouettes advanced 71 yards in seven plays.

After Fleming booted a 35-yard field goal to increase the Edmonton lead to 13-8, Landry returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to the Edmonton 49. Sylvain Girard came up with a huge 44-yard catch with Donny Brady draped all over him to put the ball on the five-yard line. Two plays later, Lapointe scored on a one-yard run to give the Alouettes their initial lead of the game. It was Lapointe’s fifth touchdown of the playoffs.

On the Eskimos next series, Troy Davis was striped of the ball by Timothy Strickland. Matthieu Proulx recovered the ball and returned the fumble 22 yards to the Edmonton 12. After the Alouettes failed to make a first down, Duval booted a 13-yard field goal to make the score 18-13.

The Eskimos received a needed momentum switch on the following play, as Tompkins burst his way 96 yards for the longest kickoff return in Grey Cup history, putting the Eskimos back in front 20-18.

Montreal came up with a huge turnover early in the fourth quarter as Anwar Stewart knocked the ball out of Ray’s hands, which was recovered by Philion. With the Alouettes on the Edmonton 23, Montreal needed four plays for a touchdown as Calvillo scored on a naked bootleg from the one-yard line to put the Alouettes ahead by five.

With less than over two minutes remaining and facing a third-and-four on the Montreal 50, Ray connected with Derrell Mitchell on a 35-yard pass. Two pass interference penalties, including one in the end zone put the Eskimos on the one-yard line. Ray called his own number, putting the Eskimos in front by one point. Ray then completed a pass to Jason Tucker on a post pattern for a two-point convert with 1:03 remaining in regulation.

Starting from the Montreal 52, the Alouettes drove to the Edmonton 20 on seven plays. Calvillo threw one deflected pass which came close to being intercepted by Eskimos, but it landed on the turf to keep the Alouettes alive. Duval kicked a 27-yard field goal with no time remaining to force overtime.

With both teams getting a shot at the end zone by receiving a first down on the 35 yard-line, Cavillo threw a 30-yard pass to Dave Stala in the back in the end zone to give the Alouettes a seven-point advantage. With the Eskimos needing a touchdown to tie the score, Ray hit a diving Jason Tucker with a clutch 11-yard pass to tie the score at 35-35.

Fleming kicked a 36-yard field goal to begin the second overtime. Cavillo caught his own deflected pass and threw a pass to a wide open Kerry Watkins in the end zone which was dropped. The play was an illegal forward pass and pushed the Alouettes back 10 yards. Charles Alston sacked Calvillo for an 11-yard loss, putting the Alouettes in a huge hole. Facing a third-and-31, Calvillo was forced to scramble, and punted the ball away in desperation hoping an Alouette would recover. Gass caught it for Edmonton to secure the Grey Cup.

Calvillo was 29 of 43 passing for 361 yards. Mitchell led all receivers with 117 yards.

Danny Maciocia is the sixth rookie head coach to win a Grey Cup and the first born in the province of Quebec. Don Matthews missed an opportunity to win a record sixth title.

The Alouettes were forced to deal with a number of injuries throughout the game. Fullback Mike Vilimek was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Middle linebacker Jeremiah Garrison was sidelined with a possible MCL injury, while Richard Karikari suffered a hip pointer. Offensive lineman Paul Lambert suffered a ligament strain on his foot to knock him out of the game.