FG as OT expires powers not-Colts

June 30, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

On a night when Memorial Stadium welcomed back its old heroes, Baltimore's new Canadian Football League team delivered an electrifying glimpse of the future.

With lightning in the background and history in the air, Baltimore pulled out a 45-43 overtime victory against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in its home exhibition opener on Donald Igwebuike's 47-yard field goal as time expired.

It was an improbable victory reminiscent of the heroes the team honored at halftime.

A raucous crowd of 28,798 welcomed the CFL to Baltimore with a chorus of "C-O-L-T-S," the name the team can no longer use because of a federal court decision this week in Indianapolis.

The victory was marred by the sight of backup quarterback John Congemi being carried off on a stretcher. He was slammed to the ground in the first five-minute overtime period by Winnipeg's Del Lyles. Moments later on the sideline, he complained of pain in the back and legs.

Congemi, who threw a third-quarter touchdown pass to Jimmy Guarantano, was placed on a stretcher and taken to St. Joseph's Hospital for X-rays.

In the CFL's version of overtime, Winnipeg struck for a 43-40 lead in the first overtime.

Still leading by three in the final minute of the second overtime, Winnipeg had punter Bob Cameron run around in the end zone -- and then out for a safety. That got Baltimore within 43-42 with 20 seconds left.

Quarterback Shawn Jones, subbing for Congemi, took over on the Baltimore 36 after a 26-yard kickoff return by Sheldon Canley.

"I knew the situation, which made it a lot easier," Jones said. "Once they took the safety, we knew how far we needed to go. When you have a kicker like Don, it makes it a lot easier."

Jones threw a deep sideline pass to Walter Wilson for a 36-yard gain to the Winnipeg 40-yard line with five seconds left. He was 4-for-4 for 69 yards in two possessions in the second overtime.

"I told Shawn earlier I could beat my guy; just let it go," said Wilson, a product of Baltimore's Southern High. "And Iggy saved us again."

With the clock stopped, Baltimore had time to line up for Igwebuike's fifth field goal of the night. His other kicks were from 10, 22, 41 and 52 yards.

In last week's 33-18 exhibition victory over Shreveport, Igwebuike was 4-for-4. He was 9-for-9 in the preseason.

Winnipeg had taken its 43-40 lead on a safety, when Congemi was trapped in the end zone after a bad shotgun snap by Jerry Sharp, and a single, when Shannon Culver down a punt in his end zone.

The improbable finish was set up by a last-play touchdown in regulation. Wide receiver Alfred Jackson caught a deep throw from backup quarterback Sammy Garza inside the Baltimore 5 and barely stepped into the end zone for a 50-yard scoring pass.

Winnipeg coach Cal Murphy opted for a tying conversion kick by Troy Westwood instead of a two-point conversion to win. Westwood, who kicked four field goals, including a 54-yarder, sent the game into overtime.

Tied 30-30 going into the last quarter, Baltimore used an Igwebuike field goal and a blocked Winnipeg field goal to take a 40-30 lead.

Two minutes after Igwebuike hit a 43-yarder, Jearld Baylis blocked a 51-yard try by Westwood. Karl Anthony, Baltimore's All-CFL cornerback, caught the carom on the run and ran for a 59-yard score.

But Winnipeg, the Grey Cup finalist of 1993 and defending Eastern Division champion, answered with a 43-yard Westwood field goal and Garza's last-ditch throw to Jackson.

The matchup was the first between two teams that are expected to battle for the East title.

"I see them as our competition in the East," said Winnipeg defensive back Darryl Sampson. "They're not an expansion team. Don [Matthews, Colts coach] recruited an excellent club. He has a lot of talent. They know the game very well. Tracy Ham is getting back into form."

Ham got off to a rocky start with an interception on the second play of the game. That set up Winnipeg's first touchdown, a 28-yard touchdown pass from Matt Dunigan to Gerald Alphin.

Ham went on to throw for two touchdowns and 170 yards, though, completing eight of 20 passes. He hit slotback Chris Armstrong for a 53-yard touchdown to cap a three-play, 84-yard drive in the first quarter. Then he found Shawn Beals for a 21-yard touchdown strike on the next series.

The first of two sacks by linebacker Tracey Gravely gave Baltimore possession on the first drive. A 36-yard run by Mike Pringle set up the second touchdown.

Baltimore is 2-0 in the preseason.

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