EDMONTON, Alberta (Reuters) - The Montreal Alouettes won their second straight Grey Cup title on Sunday, handing the Saskatchewan Roughriders another heartbreaking loss in the Canadian Football League’s championship game.
Montreal, who edged the Riders in last year’s Grey Cup with a field goal on the final play, had a fourth-quarter rally and held off a late Saskatchewan surge for a dramatic 21-18 win.
With the victory, the Alouettes become the league’s first back-to-back winners since the Toronto Argonauts in 1996-97.
Montreal’s Avon Cobourne ran for two touchdowns and Anthony Calvillo, playing his eighth Grey Cup in 11 years, completed 29 passes for 336 yards then told the media he has a lesion on his thyroid and will require surgery.
“No matter what they find when they take out the lesion and take out basically half of my thyroid, whether they find something or not, I’ll be ready to play football next year,” Calvillo told reporters. “But, it’s something that we’re going to have to address as we figure out what’s inside my throat.”
A capacity crowd of over 63,000 that included Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper settled in as temperatures dipped toward minus-nine Celsius (15.8 Fahrenheit) for a game between two of the CFL’s most successful teams over the last 10 years.
The Alouettes raced to an 8-0 lead but it was the Riders, who took an 11-8 advantage into halftime.
Neither team was able to produce much offense in the third, with a 22-yard Damon Duval field goal accounting for all the scoring to level score at 11-11 and set up a wild finish.
Duval put the Alouettes back in front early in the fourth nailing a 47-yard field goal before Calvillo produced some late magic hooking up with Jamel Richardson on a 37-yard pass that set up Cobourne’s second touchdown.
Richardson, Calvillo’s favorite target, hauled in eight passes for 109 yards and was named the 98th Grey Cup’s most valuable player.
The never-say-die Riders hit back, Darian Durant finding Andy Fantuz with a long pass to get the ball down to the Alouettes’ two-yard line.
The Roughriders then dipped into their bag of tricks, Durant finding offensive lineman Marc Parenteau with a short touchdown pass to slice the lead to 21-18.
Saskatchewan would get the ball one last time but saw their Cup dreams dashed once again when Montreal’s Billy Parker intercepted Durant to snuff out the Riders comeback bid.
“Every loss is a tough one when you lose the ultimate game,” said Riders coach Ken Miller. “I‘m really proud of the men in that locker room they battled and attacked this game like they attacked everything this season - as a team.”
Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue/Patrick Johnston