TORONTO — October is a special time in the CFL, as the leaves start to turn and the air starts to cool, the playoff races and intensity on the gridiron rapidly heat up. It also brings one of the most beloved weekend’s on the CFL calendar, Thanksgiving Weekend presented by Purolator.
The holiday weekend takes on an array of different meanings across the country. It’s a time of reflection and a time of thanks, it can also mean enjoying the company of friends and family.
THANKSGIVING WEEKEND presented by Purolator
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For many it is also time that is spent cheering on their favourite CFL team, and we here at CFL.ca would argue there’s no better pairing than Thanksgiving weekend and CFL football. Sure, turkey and stuffing are a pretty great combination, but how about turkey, stuffing and watching your favourite team score a touchdown?
From a trio of last-second scores, to trickery in Winnipeg, Thanksgiving weekend in the CFL has a knack for providing some of the most exciting moments of the year. With that in mind CFL.ca has created a list of some of the top Thanksgiving moments from the last five years, and one moment of immortality from a certain quarterback in 2011.
Calvillo Becomes All-Time Passer
October 9, 2011
Admittedly this did not happen over the last five years, nonetheless it is one of the most iconic moments in CFL history, and it happened over Thanksgiving weekend. Making it a moment that deserves an eternal place on any CFL related Thanksgiving weekend list.
During this Thanksgiving Weekend in 2011, Calvillo wrote himself into the history book, breaking Damon Allen’s all-time CFL record of 72,381 passing yards with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Jamel Richardson on the final play of the third quarter against the Toronto Argonauts.
Interestingly enough, Allen was on hand at Percival Molson Stadium, along with then-CFL commissioner Mark Cohon. Following Richardson’s score, play was stopped and both Allen and Cohon, as well as member of Calvillo’s family, took part in a ceremony to honour the 39-year-old Calvillo.
The one with all the Thanksgivings
Thanksgiving Weekend 2021
Thanksgiving Weekend during the 2021 season felt like a special slate of games, especially after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 season. The following year Canadian football returned to our televisions and adding to the excitement of the holiday weekend, were a trio of games that provided plenty of entertainment on the gridiron.
No, it wasn’t a turkey induced tryptophan-dream, not one, but three games ended with last-second scores in one of the most electrifying Thanksgiving weekends in recent memory.
In a Saturday game the Calgary Stampeders defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 22-19. It was Calgary’s Rene Paredes who played the hero as he delivered a 44-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock to secure a win over the Riders.
On Thanksgiving Monday the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Ottawa REDBLACKS 20-16 from Percival Molson Stadium. The Als were certainly thankful for the play of backup quarterback Matthew Shitlz. He entered the game late in the fourth in relief of an injured Vernon Adams Jr. and completed three crucial passes as he led the Als downfield for the game winning drive.
The Toronto Argonauts helped to close out the wild weekend of CFL action as they earned a 24-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field. Much like Paredes on the Saturday, Toronto’s Boris Bede was called upon to attempt a potential game-winning kick with zero’s on the clock. Just as Paredes did, Bede put on the Superman cape and delivered a 51-yard field goal to lift Toronto over the Ticats.
Career-high for Andrew Harris
October 12, 2019
Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans had something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Weekend, as their team defeated the Montreal Alouettes 35-24, thanks in large part to running back Andrew Harris.
Harris was on another level during this contest at IG Field and hit a career-high 166 yards on 24 carries. It was the first half of the game that he really took off, tallying 106 of those yards before half time. At the time, his 166 yards brought his league-leading rushing total to 1,261 yards.
Willie Jefferson’s game-winner
October 8, 2018
Defence was the name of the game in this early October contest, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated the Edmonton Elks 19-12. The win was the Riders third in a row and it improved their record to 10-5 in a season where the Riders finished second in the West Division.
It was defensive end Willie Jefferson that was the hero of the day for Saskatchewan, as he delivered the game-winning score with under two minutes to play. Jefferson intercepted Michael Reilly and delivered the game winning score with a 49-yard pick-six. Jefferson also added five tackles and a sack.
October 10, 2017
Over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2017, the Ottawa REDBLACKS pulled off what looked to be an impossible task as they battled their way to a 30-25 comeback win over the BC Lions.
Down 25-6 with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Ottawa would go on to score 24 unanswered points in a game that many thought was sure to end in favour of the Lions.
Late in the third quarter of action Trevor Harris completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ellingson for their first touchdown of the game. Following the score Ottawa recovered an onside kick attempt, then drove downfield as Harris completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Spencer. The string of big-plays for the REDBLACKS helped to give them the momentum shift they needed in order to complete the wild comeback.
Welcome to Edmonton, Gable
October 9, 2017
The game didn’t start out perfectly for Edmonton running back C.J. Gable – his first carry of the game popped out of his hands and the Alouettes defence returned it for a touchdown – but things got a lot better for him as time went on.
It was Gable’s first game donning the Green and Gold during this Thanksgiving weekend, and he impressed everyone, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Blue and Fool’s Gold
October 8, 2016
In 2016 the Winnipeg Blue Bombers welcomed the BC Lions to IG Field for a West Division showdown over the Thanksgiving weekend. The Bombers would hold off a second-half surge from the Lions as they earned a tightly contested 37-35 win.
Winnipeg seemingly had control of the game early on as they raced to an early 24-3 lead over the Lions. The early lead was aided by a first-quarter scoring-drive which showcased the creativity and wit of head coach Mike O’Shea. The head coach called two trick plays to help his team find the end zone.
Facing a third-and-10 the Bombers called on Justin Medlock to attempt a field goal from just beyond the BC 35-yard line, however Weston Dressler pulled the ball and escaped for a 20-yard gain. Two plays later Andrew Harris field a direct snap and pitched the ball to Rory Kohlert who threw a four yards touchdown pass to quarterback Matt Nichols.