TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Argonauts tamed the Calgary Stampeders 35-22 to claim the 100th Grey Cup on Sunday, allowing Canada’s biggest city to shed its Loserville reputation and celebrate a Canadian Football League (CFL) championship.
The week-long Grey Cup party reached a roaring climax inside Toronto’s domed stadium as 53,208 CFL fans, most of them wearing the Argos double-blue colors, basked in victory 100 years after the University of Toronto Rugby Football became the first to hoist the trophy.
The Grey Cup may be Canada’s second most treasured piece of silverware after the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup, but on Sunday the old battered mug was the toast of a hockey-mad city for the first time since 2004.
Ranked as North America’s worst sports city by ESPN magazine, Toronto sports fans have had precious little to cheer for watching their teams stumble through season after season.
The Maple Leafs have not paraded the Stanley Cup through the city since 1967 and Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays have not been in the postseason since winning the 1993 World Series.
A National Basketball Association title remains a far off dream for the Raptors while the city’s Major League Soccer team has yet to reach the postseason.
”I‘m a Toronto boy raised in Canada, we dream about the Grey Cup, not the Super Bowl, and we’re living our dreams today,“ Argonauts defensive end Ricky Foley, who was named the Grey Cup’s outstanding Canadian, told reporters. ”It wasn’t that long ago that Toronto was the city of champions.
“(Toronto Blue Jays pitcher) Ricky Romero tweeted to Chad Owens saying, ‘congratulations, go get it’ and with the recent transactions they have done in that organization, if they get the fan support we got today, Toronto is going to have a lot more championship teams.”
Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray, brought to Toronto during the offseason in a trade that shook the league, opened the game with an interception but ended with 231 passing yards, including touchdowns passes to Andre Durie and Chad Owens, who was name the CFL’s most outstanding player earlier in the week.
Backup quarterback Jarious Jackson completed a one-yard pass to Dontrelle Inman for another Toronto touchdown while Pacino Horne picked off Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn and returned it 25 yards for another score.
A relentless Toronto defense limited the Stampeders to just four Rene Paredes field goals and a safety until allowing Calgary a consolation touchdown in the final seconds.
Argonauts running back Chad Kackert was named the game’s most outstanding player rushing for 133 yards on 20 carries and adding 62 yards on eight receptions.
“To tell you that I even had this in my mind when I got traded here, I didn‘t,” Ray said after winning his third Grey Cup. “I was just trying to come here and do my best to help this team out in any way that I could.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue