'Riders last win? 10 years ago today

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

It was a typical, Sunday-in-September afternoon at Regina's Taylor Field. The sun was shining (16 C), the wind was blowing (31 km from the east) and football fans across Saskatchewan were flocking to support the home team.

They would have bet the farm the Roughriders were going to emerge victorious that day, too, for even though the Green and White was struggling along with a 3-8 record, the visitors were not only worse but hauling some extra, heavy baggage. They were the extremely troubled Ottawa Rough Riders.

They were 2-8 and had lost 18 road games in a row. They, in fact, had not won outside of Ontario in their previous 34 tries, a span that covered six seasons. And they were on a collision course with their demise.

Funny thing happened along the way to the final game in franchise history, which would be in Vancouver, against Joe Paopao's B.C. Lions, exactly 48 days later.

The Ottawa Rough Riders proved they had one more win in them. And it would be that Sunday-in-September afternoon at Taylor Field.

Exactly 10 years ago today.

DOESN'T REMEMBER

"For the life of me, I don't remember that game," Dave Archer, the Ottawa quarterback at the time, said last night from Atlanta. "I mean, we won only won three all year. You'd think I'd remember all of them. Especially that one. Taylor Field was one of my favourite places. I remember the other two wins. I just can't remember that one."

There are diehard fans of the Ottawa Rough Riders, no doubt, who never did have the word Renegade in their vocabulary and have clear recollection of that game against Saskatchewan, even if they only watched it on TV or listened to the account of Dave Schreiber and Jeff Avery on radio. But there are also avid CFL followers who, like Archer, would have no memory of it at all. The cellar dwellers in each division may have been at their worst.

Ottawa led 2-0 after one quarter and, with the help of a running game that had amassed a grand total of one net yard, trailed 13-3 at the half. After three quarters, the Riders were down 15-3 and, with 7:36 to play, were behind 16-4.

SIX UNUSED TICKETS

Prairie people know their crops, and they also know their football. Gary Page, who was Ottawa's director of media relations and travel, still has six $30 unused tickets that he couldn't give away at the time. Gripping, this game was not.

The action did pick up, however, as the Riders stirred to life. An interception by linebacker Lamar McGriggs set Ottawa up with the ball at its own 52. A couple of Archer passes later and suddenly running back Profail Grier (have you heard of anyone with such a surname before -- or since?) was open for a nine-yard touchdown.

Wayne Lammle's point after brought the Riders to within five, and there was still a minute and a half to go -- which is an eternity in the CFL, remember.

Saskatchewan QB Jimmy Kemp -- a longtime friend and backup to Archer -- was picked off again on the ensuing series by Lubo Zizakovic (another great name), who would pitch to Jermaine Younger as the defence set the table again.

Now you have to know, Archer was not enjoying a great day. He wound up completing just 15-of-36 passes for 222 yards, and his seven carries for minus-15 yards was instrumental in the team's total of eight net rushing yards. But at money time, he stood tall.

After completing a pass to Andre Bolduc, he hit Robert Gordon with a 22-yard touchdown toss 49 seconds from the gun. The defence, which was the team strength, held firm as the clock ticked down to the 18-16 final.

"Obviously, we had an idea the team was in trouble," said Archer, who does colour for Atlanta Falcons games on 92.9 davefm (not named after him). "Things weren't gong well. The fan base wasn't bad, but there was so much behind the scenes that threw it all into a backspin we couldn't recover from.

"I remember feeling good when I heard the about the Renegades, that it was coming back. I'd love to see a team there again. We really enjoyed our time in Ottawa."

A final note about that last win: while Ottawa had John Payne as the coach, Joe Moss the defensive coordinator, former Riders Irv Daymond and Stephen Jones as assistants and players you might remember like Ray Bernard, James Ellingson, Chris Burns, Swift Birch, Jeff Cummins, Sammie Brennan, Joe Mero and Willie Hinchcliff, Saskatchewan boasted personnel with connections to the nation's capital as well. And not just a list of 11 former Riders that included Darren Joseph and Glenn Kulka. Jim Daley was the Roughriders coach; Greg Marshall their defensive co-ordinator. Dan Rambo was the director of player personnel and Brendan Taman was his assistant. Indeed, the stars were aligned.

Happy anniversary, Ottawa Rough Rider fans. Track down Page and trick him out of a memento.


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