Jones: 102nd Grey Cup anything but forgettable game

By Terry Jones, Edmonton Sun

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VANCOUVER — It was supposed to be a forgettable game.

It turned out to be unforgettable, especially if you were Taylor Reed, the Hamilton Tiger-Cat who pushed Karl McCartney of the Calgary Stampeders after Brandon Banks had made a 90-yard punt return with 1:12 left in the game, which would have resulted in one of the biggest upsets in Grey Cup history.

Banks was already on his way, past the blocker and Reed, when he was flagged.

It was an illegal block call.

It brought it back.

All the way back to their own 12.

It was the miracle finish. But one dumb play by Reed or one bad call by the official — and that debate will rage all off-season — prevented an incredible story from an unbelievable ending.

For the record, Reed took ownership of it.

“I take full responsibility. It’s my fault.”

Reed, a rookie linebacker from Beaumont, Tex. — the Tiger-Cats nominee for the CFL award as most outstanding player starting 14 games and registering 60 defensive tackles, eight quarterback sacks, one interception and one forced fumble — ends up going down in history with great goats in Grey Cup history.

Chuck Hunsinger. Leon McQuay. The Saskatchewan Roughriders 13th man. And now Taylor Reed.

Banks was the 5-foot-7 return man, was the hero of the Eastern Final, getting the Tiger-Cats to the Grey Cup game with two returns for touchdowns. He had five punt returns for 226 yards, four receptions for 33 yards and three carries for 35 yards.

Banks, who caught a 45-yard pass for Hamilton’s only touchdown in the 20-16 loss, was denied the chance to be a Grey Cup hero right up there with Jackie Parker, Dave Ridgway, Tony Gabriel, Mark McLaughin, Rocket Ismail and so many others.

It’ll take forever for the two to get over this and maybe take some pride in the part they played to turn the predicted ‘Snore On The Shore’ into the ‘Roar On The Shore’ as advertised.

Throughout much of the game, the Hamilton team, which wasn’t given much hope, was looking like “nope”. But the Tiger-Cats made this one into yet another in the long line of Grey Cup classics.

The way it worked out, this time the Calgary Stampeders didn’t have to say they were sorry.

Stamps coach John Hufnagel accepted the Grey Cup from out-going commissioner Mark Cohon while wearing a Stampeders jersey with the number and name of ex-Stampeders and former part-owner John Forzani who died this month.

A horse stood between the 35 and 40-yard lines as Bo Levi Mitchell accepted the Most Outstanding Player Award.

“He’s matured in an unbelievable way,” said Hufnagel of his young quarterback.

Hufnagel kissed the Cup and passed it to his players.

“I’d like to thank every single person who is here right now,” Mitchell told the crowd.

He was 25-for-34 for 334 yards passing.

It’s a rare Grey Cup when the MOP and top Canadian awards don’t both go to the winner, but Andy Fantuz, who played a big part of bringing the Tiger-Cats back in the fourth quarter, was given the Canadian honours.

The 15-3 Calgary Stampeders came into the game not only as a dominant football team but as a determined band of brothers motivated to not secure a place in history as one of the most underachieving top team in CFL history.

With only one Grey Cup title to show for seven seasons under head Hufnagel, despite a 13-5, 10-7-1, 13-5, 11-76, 12-6, 14-4 and 15 regular-season records going into this game, the Stamps heard the words of Hufnagel to start the week and before the game.

“There have been lots of things said about this group of players over the years. Until they do something about it, it’s going to keep being said,” he said at the coaches press conference to start the week.

“Be champions. Win the Cup, men. Let’s go!” he told them before the game.

That’s exactly what they did.

But there but for the grace of the football gods, it could have turned out different.

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