CFLs' CUP Baltimore is beaten on last play, 26-23, after early 14-3 lead


November 28, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The B.C. Lions captured the Grey Cup championship last night, beating Baltimore, 26-23, on a 38-yard field goal by Lui Passaglia with no time left on the clock.

A crowd of 55,097 celebrated B.C.'s first Grey Cup victory since Baltimore coach Don Matthews led the Lions to the title in 1985.

The defeat spoiled Baltimore's bid to become the first expansion team to win a championship in its first season.

It also means the Grey Cup stays in Canada. Baltimore was the first American team to reach the championship game. The Lions are the first team to win the championship at home since Montreal in 1977.

Passaglia had missed a go-ahead field goal try from 37 yards a minute earlier. Pinned at their 2 after Charles Anthony was able to get the ball out of the end zone to avoid a single, the CFLs punted two plays later.

Josh Miller's 37-yard kick was returned 7 yards by Darren Flutie to the 34. After Cory Philpot ran twice to the 31, Passaglia came on for the winning kick.

The Lions came back from a 14-3 first-half deficit to get a 20-20 tie going into the fourth quarter.

B.C. took its first lead of the game four minutes into the final quarter, getting a 27-yard field goal by Passaglia.

A 17-yard pass to Flutie and runs of 17 yards by Sean Millington and 13 by Philpot got the Lions to the Baltimore 22. But Millington was stopped at the 20 after two runs and Passaglia sent B.C. ahead.

Baltimore was on the verge of taking back the lead when quarterback Tracy Ham was stripped of the ball at the B.C. goal line.

Ham teamed with Joe Washington on a picture-perfect 55-yard pass to the B.C. 10. After an incompletion, he ran out of the pocket to the 1, where he was tackled by Tom Europe and Tony Collier.

Collier came up with the ball, and two penalties against the CFLs on the play moved B.C. out to its 23.

Baltimore stopped the Lions on downs, then moved in for a tying field goal. After Lester Smith returned a punt 16 yards to the B.C. 53, Ham came up with the big play, a 21-yard scramble to the 26.

Two runs by Mike Pringle got the CFLs to the 21, where Donald Igwebuike kicked a 29-yard field goal that tied the game at 23.

Baltimore's defense intercepted Kent Austin three times in the first half, once for a razzle-dazzle touchdown, and staked the CFLs to a 17-10 halftime lead.

Austin, nursing a separated left shoulder, started the game, but didn't last the first half. He was largely ineffective after a game-opening field-goal drive, completing just six of 16 passes for 69 yards.

When Baltimore pass rushers Robert Presbury and Elfrid Payton drove him to the turf on the third interception, Austin stayed down. He was replaced by Danny McManus on the next B.C. series with seven seconds left before intermission.

Cornerback Karl Anthony, a hero in Baltimore's victory over Winnipeg in the Eastern Division final last week, delivered big again last night.

He snuffed a B.C. threat in the first quarter when he intercepted a pass in the end zone that deflected off receiver Ray Alexander's hands.

The razzle-dazzle came in the second quarter, moments after Baltimore took a 7-3 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ham.

On B.C.'s first play from scrimmage after the TD, linebacker Alvin Walton, a veteran of two Super Bowls, stepped in front of an errant Austin pass for an interception.

As he was about to be tackled, he lateraled to his left to a sprinting Anthony, who went 36 yards down the sideline to a touchdown.

In 35 seconds, the CFLs went from a 3-0 deficit to a 14-3 lead.

Baltimore was unable to capitalize on the third interception of the half, though. Watson slipped in front of Alexander along the B.C. bench to make the interception, returning it to the Lions' 34.

But after two plays lost yardage to the 40, Igwebuike's 47-yard field goal was wide left.

B.C.'s return man, Spencer McLennan, made a nifty move at the goal line to elude Charles Anthony and avoid a one-point single.

Baltimore's offense was almost as charitable as B.C.'s through the first half.

Ham threw two interceptions, and had two more picks dropped by B.C. defenders.

He gave the Lions their only touchdown of the half with a poor second-down pass from his end zone.

Halfback Charles Gordon intercepted Ham at the 17 and raced to the corner of the end zone for a touchdown with 2:12 left in the half.

Ham completed seven of 16 passes for 128 yards in the first half, but his first completion didn't come until the final seconds of the first quarter.

Baltimore had only two first downs in the opening quarter, when Passaglia's 47-yard field goal produced the only scoring.

Ham operated from a quasi-huddle in the first half, shouting out plays before the team went to the line of scrimmage to beat the high decibel level in the domed stadium.

The offense finally got untracked in the second quarter when Ham threw for 13 yards to Chris Armstrong and 36 to Walter Wilson.

Wilson, playing with a separated shoulder himself, got to the B.C. 10 after his long run off a hitch pattern.

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