CFLs lament Sacramento game

September 12, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Don Matthews said he hadn't slept, and his eyes shouted their confirmation.

Tracy Ham said he was still upset, and the edge in his voice removed any doubt.

The Baltimore CFLs had trouble yesterday shaking a nightmarish 30-29 Saturday night loss to the Sacramento Gold Miners.

Even another reprieve from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- who lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, 49-18, yesterday to fall back into a first-place tie with Baltimore -- was of little consolation.

"I was mad about last night," said Ham, the CFLs' quarterback, "and I was madder after I watched films. There were plays I was supposed to make, I didn't make."

Matthews, the coach, was even more disconsolate.

"I lost a one-point Grey Cup game and I didn't feel as bad after that as I do after this game," he said. "We gave this one away so bad."

An 18-17 Toronto loss to the British Columbia Lions in the 1983 Grey Cup didn't hurt as much as the game the CFLs squandered in the middle of their first season. It had a lot to do with 15 penalties worth 168 yards, and a missed field goal from chip-shot range.

The penalties were bad, the missed 21-yard field goal by Donald Igwebuike worse because of its timing. It would have given Baltimore a four-point lead with 39 seconds left and forced Sacramento to go for a game-winning touchdown. Instead, the Gold Miners needed only to get to the Baltimore 40 for Roman Anderson's winning 47-yard field goal on the last play of the game.

Igwebuike fell as he attempted his kick, then declined to alibi in the locker room later. "It was just a bad kick," he said.

Yesterday, Matthews reiterated his bottom-line approach. "When a pro gets a chance to make a play to win the game, he's got to do his job," he said. "An offense can only get you in position to win it. An individual has to get it done."

The CFLs had moved to a first down at the Sacramento 4 in the final minute. Running back Mike Pringle lost a yard to the 5 on first down, and then Ham tried to run the clock on second down. He took an 8-yard sack when the play he called -- a counter-bootleg -- didn't open up. What also worked against the CFLs was that the 20-second clock at Memorial Stadium was not working.

"Tracy was trying to run more time off the clock," Matthews said. "If we get the field goal, we win the game. It was a good decision, a no-risk play. He would never have passed."

It was a night when tempers flared, even among teammates. After Baltimore blew another first-and-goal opportunity early in the third quarter, Pringle and Ham could be seen in heated conversation.

"It's football we're playing, not patty-cakes," said Pringle, who rushed for 89 yards against his former teammates. "It's very intense out there."

Said Ham: "It was in the heat of battle. One guy sees one thing, another guy sees something else. He's a competitor, I'm a competitor . . . . He did a good job keeping the team before himself."

Next Sunday in Regina, Saskatchewan, the 6-4 CFLs face the 6-4 Roughriders. Baltimore still has a piece of first place and an eye on the home-field advantage in the playoffs.

"For all our trouble, we've still got a chance," Ham said.

NOTES: Baltimore signed defensive tackle Brent White, who started 17 games for Sacramento last season and played at Michigan, to the practice squad. "We're still trying to upgrade the pass rush," Matthews said . . . . Said fullback Peter Tuipulotu, who had seven catches for 105 yards, "We've got to look in the mirror to see if we're doing enough to help the team win." . . . . Wide-out Walter Wilson is questionable for Saskatchewan with a hip pointer that knocked him out of Saturday's game.

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