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TSN 25: 'The Kick' gives Riders Grey Cup win in 1989

Dave Carroll

7/15/2009 10:02:39 PM

In honour of TSN's 25th Anniversary, TSN.ca is taking a look at some of the top sports stories over the last 25 years. Next up, the 1989 Grey Cup.

The CFL's 1989 regular season did not give much indication of what the Saskatchewan Roughriders had in store for their fans.

The Riders managed only a 9-9 record, good for third in the West Division behind the 16-2 Edmonton Eskimos and the 10-8 Calgary Stampeders.

But the playoffs were a different story.

Saskatchewan dispatched Calgary 33-26 in the West Semi-Final and then took out powerhouse Edmonton 32-21 in the West Final to set up a Grey Cup showdown against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Ticats were the favourite going in after a 12-6 season, but the East was a weaker division where no other club had a winning record.

And so the stage was set for the 77th Grey Cup at Toronto's SkyDome. The Ticats jumped out to a fast 6-0 lead on two field goals by Paul Osbaldiston. Mike Kerrigan then hooked up with Tony Champion for a touchdown and Hamilton held a 13-1 lead after the first quarter.

Quarterback Kent Austin was able to get the Riders' pass attack on track and he threw for three majors - hitting Ray Elgaard, Jeff Fairholm and Don Narcisse. The Saskatchewan touchdowns were sandwiched around two touchdowns by Ticats runningback Derrick McAdoo.

Riders' kicker Dave Ridgway then had a chance to make the game even closer with a 50-yard field goal try late in the second, but missed the attempt. Even with the miss, the Riders had cut Hamilton's lead to five points at the half.

The Riders continued their strong play in the third quarter, putting 12 points on the board thanks to a Ridgway field goal, a safety and Tim McCray's touchdown run. Osbaldiston accounted for the Ticats' only points of the quarter with a field goal and the score stood at 34-30 for Saskatchewan heading to the final stanza.

Both teams traded field goals, with Ridgway hitting two and Osbaldiston making one. The Riders seemed to have things well in hand with a 40-33 lead, but Al Bruno's squad wasn't done.

Kerrigan engineered a drive that took precious time off the clock and ended with Champion making a great catch to tie the game at 40.

Not to be outdone, Austin marched the Riders down the field and with nine seconds left, Ridgeway came out.

Bruno called a timeout in an attempt to ice the kicker. Safety and holder Glen Suitor went to the sidelines to discuss the situation with head coach John Gregory and the coach wanted to try a play called a "shift down" in an attempt to draw the Ticats offside.

"I would call the signals, then our linemen would 'snap down' their three-point stances trying to draw the other team offside," explained Suitor. "So if we missed the field goal we'd get another chance.

"I though it might backfire on us and felt so confident that Dave was going to make it, I said 'coach lets just kick it.'"

The two went back and forth until Gregory agreed and told Suitor to get back on the field. When Suitor returned to the huddle he found the rest of the Riders giving Ridgway a little too much advice.

"They had become kicking coaches and were all telling Dave to 'keep your head down' and 'follow-through,'" recalled Suitor. "I told them get away from my kicker."

The Hamilton timeout had worked in the sense that Ridgway was starting to feel the heat in front of the 54,088 at SkyDome and asked Suitor to get his mind of the play. The duo had a standard ritual when taking big kicks - they would try to think of other things like plans after the game, or Suitor telling a joke. As they waited for the timeout to end, Suitor remembered a woman he had seen in the crowd earlier.

"She had the same physical proportions as the famous 'kissing bandit,' Morganna who used to run out onto the field during sporting events," he explained. "When Dave said 'let's talk about something other than the kick,' I remembered her and said, 'look behind the Hamilton bench. See that blonde?'"

Suitor admitted he didn't know if Ridgway saw the woman or not, but the tension was broken and the kicker had a smile when his face when he lined up.

Ridgway parted the uprights and "The Kick" gave the Roughriders their second ever Grey Cup championship.