Jon Cornish didn’t have the chance to deliver the grail himself, but it didn’t matter.
“They kept me pretty quiet, but that’s the key – we’ve got too much talent on this team,” Cornish said Sunday night, as Grey Cup confetti fell over Calgary’s champion Stampeders on the BC Place turf.
“I knew going into this game, that I wasn’t going to be Grey Cup MVP. I wasn’t going to get all these accolades or whatever, but I knew we would win.”
On a day the all-time great Canadian running back – who has a career 6.8 yards per carry average – was held to just 25 yards on the ground, his quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 334 and Eric Rogers caught for 108 through the air. Not to mention, backup pivot Drew Tate rushed for two goal line scores in the first half, helping Calgary build up a 17-0 lead they’d never lose.
Hamilton made it close, barely but finally losing 20-16, and Calgary benefitted from a somewhat controversial final-minute flag, which called back Brandon Banks’s punt return TD.
But Cornish and crew won their second Grey Cup since 2008, putting the finishing touches on a fine, 15-3 regular season.
“I did, I saw (the flag) right away,” Mitchell said of the illegal block penalty that cancelled out Hamilton’s potential go-ahead score. “I was so thankful for that… a lot of guys gotta realize that they were one play away from winning the game.
“He’s a very talented player and hard to stop but, in the end, man, we got it done.”
The game – which turned out to be a page-turner, with Hamilton scoring 16 of the final 19 points – was played in front of just over 52,000 in attendance. But outside BC Place, on the plaza home to Terry Fox’s statue and down Robson Street towards Vancouver’s waterfront, fans from all corners of Canada kept the heat alive on a chilly almost-December day.
Stampeders and Tiger-Cats fans were decked in their respective colours to pump-up the atmosphere before their big game, but fans from Winnipeg, BC, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal were representing their clubs, as well.