Recapping the 109th Grey Cup
Mohana Holloway, Contributor
Although it was a cold Sunday at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, over 30,000 people attended the 109th Grey Cup. Going head to head were the East Division champions, the Toronto Argonauts, and West Division champs — as well as reigning back-to-back Grey Cup champions — the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Given the fact the Argonauts and Bombers had not gone head-to-head in the Grey Cup in 72 years, and that the Bombers were on the verge of being three time back-to-back champions, the 2022 Grey Cup promised to be an exciting game. The Blue Bombers entered the match with a record of 15 wins and three loses, while the Toronto Argonauts entered as underdogs with a regular season record of 11 wins and seven loses.
Teagan Littlechief sang the national anthem in English, French and Cree, and the Purolator Tackle Hunger fundraiser announced a donation of 386,000 cans of food across Canada with the help of CFL fans. Winnipeg won the coin toss, and chose to kick off to the Argonauts.
Defense was strong during the first quarter. The opening first-down of the game went to the Argonauts’ Markeith Ambles, which allowed Argos kicker Boris Bede to kick a field goal, making the Double Blue first on the scoreboard 3-0. A few drives later, Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat made the first sack of the game against Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The quarter ended in favour of the Argonauts, having both the lead and more offensive plays than the Bombers.
The second quarter began with an Argonauts attempted field goal. Bede missed, but Winnipeg was unable to get the ball out of the end zone, giving Toronto a rouge point, bringing the score to 4-0. In the next drive, Winnipeg’s quarterback, and the CFL’s 2022 Most Outstanding Player, Zach Collaros, threw a strong 39-yarder to CFL rookie of the year Dalton Schoen, bringing them into Argonaut territory.
Shortly after, the first touchdown of the game was scored by the Bomber’s second-string quarterback, Dakota Prukop, giving them their first points of the game. After a kickoff to the Argos, Toronto made several pass plays, bringing them close to the potential of a touchdown. However, the Argonauts opted for a field goal instead, making the game even at seven apiece.
With 45 seconds left in the second quarter, Marc Lieggho kicked a 45-yard field goal, giving the Bombers back the lead 10-7 heading into halftime. Country singers Jordan Davis, Tyler Hubbard and Josh Ross joined together for a performance perfectly fit for the prairies.
The second half began with Bombers in posession of the ball. But Collaros was sacked early on. They punted to Toronto, and Argos running back (and former Blue-Bomber star), Andrew Harris helped bring the ball up to a first and goal position. Argos running back AJ Ouellette scored a rushing touchdown, launching Toronto back into a 14-10 lead.
It was clear the Bombers were not ready to give up their status as league champions just yet, though. After several successful Winnipeg drives, a Toronto penalty helped bring the ball up to their one-yard line. Another rushing touchdown by Prukop, and the Blue-Bombers were ahead yet again, 17-14.
The fourth quarter was about as exciting as the Canadian version of gridiron football can get. In the first minute, Blue-Bomber wide receiver Janarion Grant made the longest punt return touchdown in Grey Cup history of 102 yards. But, in the last 10 minutes of playing time, Argos Javon Leake returned the favour with a 44-yard punt return, which is exactly what they needed to put them in a winning position.
Two drives later, Ouellette scored his second touchdown of the night. This brought Toronto to a lead of only one point, 24-23, with just shy of three minutes left. It looked promising for an Argonaut win, with an interception a couple of plays later. But it was evident that the Bombers were not yet ready to admit defeat. Winnipeg’s Greg Mackellar blocked Toronto’s field goal attempt and regained possession of the ball.
The last minute of the game was perhaps the most exciting of all. Multiple sacks, a major face mask penalty and a block against the Bomber’s 47-yard field goal attempt, all led to a well-deserved victory for the league’s oldest franchise, the Toronto Argonauts.
Looking at both statistics, and watching as a fan, it was evident this was Toronto’s game. From the beginning, the Argos displayed both great defense and offense. Regardless of being the underdogs, it was obvious the Argonauts had something to prove. Winnipeg put up a good fight, however, it wasn’t good enough to clinch them the win.
The Argos now hold the league record of most Grey Cup wins, having won the championship no fewer than 18 times. This game truly feels like one for the books. When it all comes down to a one point difference in the final score, it’s evident that this was some true Canadian football.