If Thursday’s game were presented as a Hollywood script outline, it might look like this…
Like ‘Casablanca’, the Inciting Incident to the story of the Canada Day Classic arrives late. As a result subplots are required, the first dealing with the fact that this game was a rematch of the 2009 Grey Cup.
The Riders won that game — for about 30 seconds. Then flags. A moment later a referee stepped forward, “Too many men. Saskatchewan. 10 yard penalty.” Montreal used their second chance to kick the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock. From the heights of ecstasy to the depths of heart wrenching trauma, the Roughriders and the province of Saskatchewan fell.
Six months later, the league released its 2010 schedule. Saskatchewan was slated to open the CFL’s regular season at home against the Montreal Alouettes on Canada Day. In preparing for this game, the Roughrider players and coaches would have to relive the most painful moment of their careers, over and over and over again on film.
The second subplot involves the team’s roller coaster off-season. It began with Eric Tillman, architect of the 2009 Grey Cup team, being forced to resign in controversy. Soon after, key players from the defence retired or departed for opportunities in the NFL. The final blows came when three coaches left to take over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the team’s most hated rival.
The 2010 Roughriders were set to be a very different team from the 2009 edition. Would their offence be productive with new coaches in place? Would Darian Durant be a one hit wonder? Could the defence recover from the loss of so many key players? How will the psychology of last year’s loss affect the team’s play?
Inciting Incident (Act I Climax) – With just over five minutes to go in the 3rd Quarter, Montreal returns a missed field goal 125 yards for a Touchdown. After the convert, the score is Montreal 33 – Saskatchewan 12. Some fans head for the exits. That return is later replayed to television audiences across North America as ESPN’s ‘#1 Play of the Day’
Spine – Four minutes to go in the 3rd Quarter. Durant completes a 43 yard bomb to Preche Rodriguez for a Touchdown. Montreal 33 – Saskatchewan 19.
Montreal is stopped on their next possession.
Twenty seconds to go in the 3rd Quarter. Durant completes an 87 yard bomb to Rob Bagg for a Touchdown. Montreal 33 – Saskatchewan 26.
Montreal again is stopped on their possession.
At 4:12 of the 4th Quarter, Wes Cates, thought to be washed up, runs for 14, 20, and then 10 yards for a Touchdown. Montreal 33 – Saskatchewan 33.
The Roughriders, against one of the most dominant teams of the past decade, do the improbable. Twenty-one straight points in just over 10 minutes of play.
The Grey Cup Champion Montreal Alouettes respond however. With 3:49 to go in the game, they score a Touchdown. Montreal 40 – Saskatchewan 33.
On the next possession, the Roughriders drive down into Montreal territory, but soon find themselves running out of time and opportunities. A desperation 3rd down gamble, results in a completion to Andy Fantuz.
Act II Climax – With 30 seconds to go in the game, Durant throws to the end zone. Fantuz catches the pass and celebrates what appears to be the game tying Touchdown, but the ball is spotted at the 1 yard line. Play is under review. Replays on the MaxTron clearly show Fantuz in the end zone with the ball. Ruling on the field is overturned. Touchdown Saskatchewan.
Game is tied at 40 – 40, and heads into overtime.
Saskatchewan takes possession of the ball on Montreal’s 35 yard line. Durant completes one pass. Then another. He throws to the end zone on his third attempt. Touchdown Andy Fantuz. Saskatchewan 46 – Montreal 40.
Saskatchewan must now attempt a 2 point convert, as single points are disallowed in overtime. Durant drops back and completes the end zone toss to Chris Getzlaf. Saskatchewan 48 – Montreal 40.
Crisis Scene – Montreal takes possession on Saskatchewan’s 35 yard line. Future Hall of Fame Quarterback, Anthony Calvillo drives Montreal down to Saskatchewan’s 19 yard line before running out of gas. His desperation 3rd down pass to the end zone falls incomplete.
Saskatchewan wins! Saskatchewan wins! Saskatchewan wins!
But wait. Flags on the field. “Too many men. Saskatchewan. 10 yard penalty.”
A head slap, 1 million television viewers and 30,000 paying customers large, is heard around the country.
Montreal goes on to score a touchdown. The resulting two point convert, a leaping physics bending catch of the decade type completion makes ESPN’s ‘#3 Top Play of the Day’.
Saskatchewan 48 – Montreal 48
Act III Climax – Montreal takes possession on Saskatchewan’s 35 yard line. Two incompletions later, Montreal kicks a field goal.
Montreal 51 – Saskatchewan 48
Saskatchewan takes possession on Montreal’s 35 yard line. Durant launches the ball 33 yards down the field and hits Dressler for the completion. It’s now first and goal from Montreal’s 2 yard line.
Ball is snapped, Durant drops back, fires a bullet into traffic. Dressler comes up with it. Touchdown!
Saskatchewan 54 – Montreal 51.
Fireworks. Bedlam. Hugs. High Fives. Tears.
Roll the credits.