Rob Van Winkle, a.k.a. Vanilla Ice, played the halftime show on Friday night, but with the Edmonton Eskimos punching their post-season ticket with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats loss the night before and the Caglary Stampeders already set to host next week’s semifinal, it might as well have been Rip Van Winkle as far as the standings are concerned.
Except the ending was nothing short of a nightmare for the Eskimos.
The used-to-be famous 1990s rapper was a fitting choice, given both elements of his stage name came into effect in a 30-27 Eskimos loss, as the Stampeders swept the 2012 season series 4-0.
Amid a backdrop of Ice aplenty around Commonwealth Stadium, Friday’s game was anything but Vanilla, ending in true Battle-of-Alberta fashion, setting up even more drama with an Eskimos crossover to the East Division semifinal against Ricky Ray’s Toronto Argonauts next Sunday.
Friday’s game ended with a bad snap on a 38-yard field goal attempt by Grant Shaw, who already handed Calgary two wins on missed field goals this season.
Eskimos linebacker T.J. Hill made an interception on the following play, only to be negated by a roughing-the-passer penalty.
Stampeders slotback Joe West fumbled on the next play, getting the ball punched out by defensive halfback Weldon Brown, who returned it deep into Calgary territory in the final minute.
Except it was ruled incomplete upon review.
Rene Paredes missed a 44-yard field goal with no time left on the clock, only to get the second chance he needed due to an Eskimos time out.
Calgary came in with the goal of helping league-leading running back Jon Cornish to the 50 yards he needed to eclipse Eskimos legend Normie Kwong’s Canadian single-season rushing record of 1,437 set in 1956.
He ended the night with 69 yards on 14 carries, while Eskimos middle linebacker J.C. Sherritt made 11 tackles to surpass Calvin Tiggle’s single-season record of 129.
But it was Joe West who put the first points on the board with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Drew Tate, who was without top receiver Nik Lewis.
Edmonton, meanwhile, rested starting quarterback Kerry Joseph to give backup Matt Nichols his second start of the season, after finishing the previous game with three touchdowns in a span of nine minutes against the Montreal Alouettes.
On Friday, it was his counterpart Tate finding the end zone on a nine-yard draw to take a 14-3 lead into the second quarter, after Grant Shaw hit a 42-yard field goal.
Rene Paredes did the same from 35 and 46 yards to give Calgary at 20-3 lead, as the Stampeders pass rush turned up the heat on a frigid Eskimos offence.
That is, until all-star slotback Fred Stamps caught a 30-yard touchdown pass — his career-high ninth on the season — to cap a six-play, 57-yard drive and pull within 10 points of Calgary’s lead.
Nichols then found slotback Cary Koch on a 48-touchdown pass into the end zone in the final minute of the half to trail 20-17.
Calgary answered back with their regular starter this season, with Kevin Glenn taking over in the third quarter, to find slotback Maurice Price for a 57-yard touchdown reception over cornerback Pete Ittersagen, who was making his first CFL start.
Third-string running back Cory Boyd ran 22 yards into the end zone to pull back within three of the lead, before Cornish matched it with a 22-yard run of his own to set the record heading into the fourth quarter.
Stamps pulled a 45-yard reception that would have been an interception out of the hands of cornerback Jamar Wall, to set up the 40-yard tying field goal.