Quarterback Ricky Ray was terrific, runningback Chad Kackert was electrifying and the Toronto defense made the Calgary Stampeders look pretty ordinary as the Argos thrilled the home fans with a 35-22 victory in the 100th Grey Cup game.
The Argos built a 24-6 lead at halftime and coasted to the 17th Grey Cup championship in franchise history. The Argos QB won his third Grey Cup championship as he played it cool from, start to finish — he handed the ball to Kackert and let the speedy bowling ball from the University of New Hampshire run wild against a Stampeders team that was outclassed from the opening kickoff.
Kackert, who finished with 195 all-purpose yards on 28 touches was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Argos defensive end Ricky Foley, a guy who was born and raised in Toronto, was named the game’s Most Outstanding Canadian.
In the first half — 30 minutes of football that was dominated by the Argos — Ray tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player for 2012, Chad Owens, while DB Pacino Horne hauled in an interception off a Kevin Glenn pass and took it the house as the Argos built an insurmountable lead at the break. The Argos got a one-yard touchdown pass from Jarious Jackson to Dontrelle Inman late in the first half to put the game on ice before Justin Bieber sang the first note of his halftime show.
“This is unbelievable,” Ricky Ray told Farhan Lalji of TSN after the game. “My teammates, coaches, everybody just put so much into this year and to win the 100th Grey Cup is just an awesome feeling.”
In the second half, the Argos defense took over and held the Stamps to only eight more points in the first 29 minutes — Calgary scored a meaningless touchdown and added a two-point conversion with 20 seconds left — as the 9-9 Argos completed a three-game post-season sweep of Edmonton, Montreal and Calgary. Amazingly, the game against Edmonton, a 27-20 in the Eastern final, was the only game the Argos had to win on the road.
“We started playing good football in the post-season,” Ray said. “We just played real good football at the right time.”
Andre Durie scored Toronto’s only touchdown of the second half as the Argos got to celebrate in front of a home crowd of 53,208 at Rogers Centre.
The Argos first year head coach, Scott Milanovich, had some rocky moments this season, but he kept his team together and they peaked at absolutely the right time. Perhaps the key to the victory was defensive coordinator Chris Jones. Jones joined the Argos with Milanovich at the start of the season after being drawn away from Calgary by Argos GM Jim Barker. The Argos were fined $5,000 for recruiting Jones before the Stampeders gave them permission to talk to their coach.
On Sunday, his defensive unit shut down the Stampeders, making Stamps quarterback Kevin uncomfortable from the first series of downs.
“This is great,” said Jones after the game. “To be here in Toronto with Scott Milanovich — and everybody probably knows that Scott and I lived together in Montreal, we’re great friends — but to be here with Scott and Jim Barker, it’s really a privilege and so we’re going to enjoy this for awhile and then get prepared for next year. But this is great. This is really great.”
Ray finished the game 18-for-30 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Jackson came off the bench and went one-for-one for one yard, one touchdown and no interceptions. Glenn went 14-for-27 for for 222 yards, no touchdowns and that one interception that was returned for a touchdown. Calgary’s Jon Cornish was held to 57 yards rushing on 15 carries. He also had a fumble. Kackert, meanwhile, carried 20 times for 133 yards, no TDs, but no turnovers either.
“This is success,” said Kackert after the game. “We’ll celebrate it for a few months and then we’ll get ready for next year.”
(With files from The Canadian Press)