TORONTO — Ricky Ray threw two touchdown passes, while Chad Kackert ran wild as the Toronto Argonauts claimed a 35-22 victory over the Calgary Stampeders to win the 100th Grey Cup at the Rogers Centre.
Kackert, who finished with 195 all-purpose yards on 28 touches was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“I can’t explain this right now. It’s been one unbelievable journey and we made it,” said Kackert, who moved into the starting role after Cory Boyd was released during the summer. “You can’t think this up, you can’t write it either.”
“It’s a great end to a story, the next chapter is going to be starting pretty soon.”
Defensive end Ricky Foley, meanwhile, was named the game’s Most Valuable Canadian, capping off what’s been a whirlwind season that now ends with gratification.
“As a testament to this team and what we became, it’s a bunch of guys just making plays out there,” said Foley. “There was so much hope and so much expectations going into training camp, man we just believed.”
For the Stampeders, it was a disappointing finish in the wake of such a promising run, that included five straight wins and an impressive win over last year’s Grey Cup champions in the Eastern Final.
The team overcame an injured Drew Tate through most of the season, but on Grey Cup Sunday struggled to find what’s made it so successful over the last month.
“They battled through a lot of things and did some great things, they just didn’t do enough,” said Head Coach and General Manager John Hufnagel. “We didn’t put the ball in the endzone when we had the opportunity.”
Ray looked to go deep on the game’s first offensive play, but his long pass to Andre Durie in one-on-one coverage was picked off by Stamps defensive back Quincy Butler, who was able to undercut the route and come up with the grab.
It was Ray’s first interception in 108 passing attempts, with the last one dating back to Oct. 27 against the Roughriders in Regina.
Chris Jones and the Argos defence quickly erased the negative play though, stuffing Jon Cornish on first down before forcing a third-and-long and a Calgary punt.
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the opening quarter, the Stamps committed their first turnover of the game when Jon Cornish couldn’t handle the exchange on a handoff, putting the ball on the turf.
Ricky Foley jumped on the loose ball, giving the Argos the ball at the 44-yard-line and control of momentum.
The Boatmen capitalized in a hurry. After an eight-yard run by Chad Kackert and a 15-yard facemask penalty against the Stamps, another Kackert run moved the offence to the five-yard-line. From there, Ray went play-action, then quickly fired a pass in the slot to Chad Owens.
Owens made a quick move on Fred Bennett, before turning it outside and past the goal line for a 5-yard touchdown to give Toronto a 7-0 lead in front of a pumped-up Rogers Centre gathering. The score capped off a six-play, 44-yard drive over 3:02.
On the very next drive, the Stamps got the big play they needed on second-and-long when Larry Taylor found a big hole and hit it hard, going for a 42-yard catch-and-run to set the Stamps up in Argos territory.
The Stamps would have to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Rene Paredes, cutting the deficit to 7-3 following the five-play, 48-yard drive.
They quickly got the ball back, but the next drive didn’t quite go according to plan. On second down Glenn looked to the wide side of the field, just to be picked off by a diving Pacino Horne at the 25-yard-line.
Minutes later, the Argos had the ball back, quickly going to work once again. After a completion to Kackert kept the drive alive on a second down conversion, Ray finally connected on the long ball to a wide open Jason Barnes for a 62-yard completion.
That set the Argos up at the Calgary 12-yard-line, with the opportunity to jump out to a big first-half lead.
But with its back against the wall, the Calgary defence came through with an enormous stop, holding the Boatmen to a 16-yard field goal from Swayze Waters to cap off a seven-play, 77-yard drive.
After exchanging possessions, the Stamps struck with another big play of their own. Glenn evaded pressure and found Nik Lewis underneath, who ran over two defenders on his way to a 61-yard gain and into Argos territory.
Glenn then found Romby Bryant over the middle for a 17-yard reception, but on an eventual second-and-goal from the three, an attempted end-around to Bryant was snuffed on an exceptional defensive play by Ejiro Kuale.
That forced the Stamps to their second three-pointer of the game from 18 yards out, making it a 17-6 ball game.
With some time left before the half to score, the Argos offence looked to take full advantage. Ray fired completions to Kackert and Durie, before eventually finding Inman for a circus catch at the goal line for a 32-yard gain.
After failing to score on a Kackert run, Jarious Jackson entered the game on second-and-one, converting on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Inman to make it 24-6. The seven-play, 75-yard drive capped off the scoring in the opening half, putting the Argos out in front.
The Stamps took over at their own 10-yard-line early in the second half following punts by each team, and Glenn started the drive with a big completion on second down to Marquay McDaniel for a 15-yard gain.
Penalties plagued the Argos from there, as a Jordan Younger pass interference followed by a Robert McCune horse collar set the Stampeders up in scoring range. But again the Argos defence tightened up to hold the Stamps to three points, cutting the score to 24-9.
Owens found space on the ensuing kickoff to set the Boatmen up in favourable field position though, while two first down runs from Kackert and another first down for Durie moved them inside the 20.
That led to another field goal, as Waters stepped in to deliver a 15-yard boot for his second of the game to extend the lead to 27-9.
The Stamps were forced to punt on the next drive, but in the meantime, Adriano Belli received a disqualification for his actions in an altercation with Calgary offensive lineman Jon Gott.
Kackert named MVP
Chad Kackert had 195 all-purpose yards in the Argos Grey Cup victory and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Ricky Foley was named the games Most Valuable Canadian.
Calgary couldn’t take advantage of the penalty yardage, but Rob Maver’s punt pinned the Argos back at their own one-yard-line, eventually forcing Toronto to concede a safety on the next possession. That cut the deficit to 27-11, as the Stamps moved to within two scores heading into the fourth quarter.
With 11 minutes remaining in the game and trailing by two touchdowns, the Stamps needed something big, and fast. On second-and-long, they may have gotten it in the form of a pass interference call on Argos’ defensive back Ahmad Carroll.
But while it set the Stampeders up at the 16, the Argos red zone defence once again held tight, forcing a 19-yard field goal from Paredes to continue to chip away at the deficit.
After the teams exchanged two-and-outs, the Stampeders shot themselves on the foot with the ensuing punt, taking a 15-yard penalty for no yards followed by another 15-yard personal foul for a late hit.
From there, a 27-yard run from Kackert put the Argos on the door step, setting up a 7-yard touchdown pass from Ray to Durie in the flat to put the Argos ahead 34-14, on Ray’s second touchdown pass of the game.
The score capped off a three-play, 38-yard drive, opening up a 20-point lead with just 5:22 remaining.
Stampeders receiver Maurice Price added a late touchdown with 20 seconds left but it was of little meaning with the game out of hand.
The win capped off a dream season for the Argos, and particularly Ray, who earned his third Grey Cup victory but his first as an Argo.
“We got hot at the right time,” he said. “Coming to Toronto was just an opportunity for me, its great to be a part of it.”
“Over the next few days, we’ll just feel so proud to be able to play in this 100th Grey Cup, in Toronto in front of our home fans.”
Ray bounced back from an interception on the game’s opening play for a strong performance, and while he took a back seat to Kackert’s outstanding night, there were a number of key second-down conversions that allowed the Argos to sustain drives throughout the night.
He’s quick to admit that he also got help though, especially from a defensive touchdown by Horne.
“We didn’t have to play with a lot of pressure on us offensively, we had the lead, pretty much the whole game.”