EDMONTON — A Grey Cup rivalry which was born in the 1950s and intensified in the 1970s re-emerged in the new century on a frozen field at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Montreal had not been home to a Grey Cup champion since 1977, including nine years when it didn’t have a CFL team at all. But Anthony Calvillo and the rest of his teammates brought prestige back to the franchise by defeating the hometown Eskimos.
Leading 1-0 after 15 minutes, the Alouettes gained 99 yards on one play for the longest touchdown reception in Grey Cup history. Calvillo connected with Pat Woodcock on the historic play.
Terry Baker kicked a 42-yard field goal with 1:15 remaining in the second quarter to give the Alouettes an 11-0 lead at halftime.
Wanting to avoid becoming the first team to lose a Grey Cup game in their own building since 1983, the Eskimos rallied in the third quarter. On their opening drive Edmonton finally got on the scoreboard as Ricky Ray threw a pass to Ricky Walters for a 17-yard touchdown. Sean Fleming kicked a 12-yard field goal later in the quarter to pull the Eskimos within one.
But early in the fourth quarter, the Alouettes struck again. This time Calvillo hit Jeremaine Copeland on a 47-yard passing play for a touchdown, giving Montreal an 18-10 advantage.
With less than six minutes remaining in regulation and the Eskimos offence facing a third-and-10 on the Montreal 36, head coach Tom Higgins opted to go for it rather than attempt a 43-yard field goal. The gamble failed.
The Eskimos would make things less than uncomfortable for the Alouettes in the final minute. Ray connected with Ed Hervey on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds remaining in regulation. Needing a two-point convert to tie the score, Tim Strickland broke up a pass intended for Terry Vaughn.
Edmonton tried one last ditch effort with an onside kick attempt, but Copeland grabbed the football and ran 47 yards for his second touchdown, sealing the win for Montreal.
Calvillo was named the game’s Most Valuable Player completing just 11 of 31 pass attempts for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Woodcock was the Most Valuable Canadian.
It was Don Matthews’ fifth Grey Cup title as a head coach, tying him with Lew Hayman, Frank Clair and Hugh Campbell for the all-time record.