Schoen on Bombers loss: ‘It’s just a kick in the stomach’
After enjoying so many highs all season Dalton Schoen experienced a devastating low in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-23 loss to the Toronto Argonauts in Sunday’s 109th Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
“It hurts,” the rookie slotback said in a near whisper in a ghostly quiet Bomber lockerroom. “It’s just a kick in the stomach.
“I just don’t have the words for it right now. It’s just painful.”
Schoen turned a lot of heads in his first CFL season, resulting in him being named the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie.
109th Grey Cup
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The 26-year-old from Overland Park, Kansas, led all receivers with 1,441 yards on 70 catches. He also was top in the league with 16 touchdowns, an average catch of 20.6 yards, 12 caches of 30 or more yards and 41 second-down conversions.
Like most of his teammates, Schoen took a quiet confidence into the final. He believed the Bombers had the skill and veteran leadership to pull out a victory.
After believing his team had all the answers, Schoen as left with a lot of questions.
“Never for one second did I think we were going to lose that game, until the last kick got blocked,” he said. “That’s how I felt this entire year.
“At the end of the day we didn’t make enough plays. Emotions were even keel until that clock hit double zeros and we lost.”
Schoen was the best Winnipeg receiver in the Grey Cup with three catches for 78 yards. Two of his catches led to Bomber scoring drives.
In the end, it wasn’t enough.
“The whole season, my whole life, has been building to this moment, so not to get the job done hurts,” he said.
In the second quarter, with the Bombers trailing 4-0, Schoen hauled in a 39-yard pass from quarterback Zach Collaros that kickstarted a 70-yard drive that gave Winnipeg a 7-4 lead.
In the third quarter, with the Bombers training 14-10, Collaros and Schoen hooked up on a 34-yard pass-and-run play. That led to another touchdown and Winnipeg again wrestling away the lead.
The final quarter was a bizarre roller-coaster ride where the Bombers watched their dream of winning a third-straight Grey Cup go off the rails.
Janarion Grant’s CFL record 102-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Bombers a 23-14 lead.
Toronto’s Boris Bede cut the lead to 23-17 with a field goal before running back A.J. Ouellette scored his second touchdown of the game with 3:24 left to give the Argos the lead.
Before the final whistle blew Toronto linebacker Henoc Muamba intercepted Collaros and both teams blocked a field goal.
Schoen had never won a championship playing college or high school football. He prepared for the Grey Cup with the same intensity and attention to detail he had for each game all season.
“You try to approach it like it’s any other game,” he said. “You don’t want the moment to get too big. Obviously, it meant a lot.
“The environment was great out there. I thought we did a good job of approaching it like any other game and put together a good game plan. We just didn’t execute.”
Schoen couldn’t explain why the high-octane Bomber offence, which led Winnipeg to a 15-3 regular-season record, went missing in the most important game of the year.
“I’d have to look at the tape to give you specifics,” he said. “All I know is we did a terrible job of keeping drives together, staying on the field, having rhythm.
“That’s on all of us. I don’t know if it was a lack of execution or lack of identifying what they were doing.”