42nd Grey Cup
|Date||November 27, 1954|
|Network||CBC—only on CBLT Toronto|
|Announcers||Norm Marshall, Larry O'Brien|
The underdog Edmonton Eskimos won a contest over the Montreal Alouettes by the score of 26 to 25. The game, replete with record performances and a touch of controversy, is considered one of the finest Grey Cup games ever.
Edmonton – TD – Earl Lindley 4-yard pass from Rollie Miles (Bob Dean convert)
Montreal – TD – Red O'Quinn 90-yard pass from Sam Etcheverry (Ray Poole convert)
Edmonton – TD – Bernie Faloney 1-yard run (convert no good)
Montreal – TD – Joey Pal 13-yard pass from Sam Etcheverry (Ray Poole convert)
Edmonton – TD – Glenn Lippman 14-yard run (Bob Dean convert)
Edmonton – TD – Jackie Parker 90-yard fumble return (Bob Dean convert)
|Team||1 Q||2 Q||3 Q||4 Q||Final|
The Eskimos entered the game as clear underdogs, with one television announcer speculating that the betting odds were 5 to 1 against them (this in a day when the WIFU was widely regarded as an inferior league compared to the IRFU, especially in Eastern Canada, and also when discussing gambling odds on the air was not yet forbidden). The Montreal Alouettes were led by their record-breaking quarterback Sam Etcheverry, who teamed with receiver Johnny "Red" O'Quinn to form one of Canadian football's legendary pass-and-catch tandems. When combined with an all-star lineup, including Alex Webster, Hal Patterson, Joey Pal, the hulking Tex Coulter and Herb Trawick, the Als won 11 games against 3 losses, and swept the Hamilton Tiger Cats in both playoff games. Though not favoured, Edmonton's appearance was no fluke, as their 11-win-and-5-loss record attests. They beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2 games to 1 in the division final series. Led by a future Hall of Fame backfield that included quarterback Bernie Faloney, Jackie Parker, Normie Kwong and Rollie Miles, they were all the more dangerous given that both Parker and Miles could throw on the option as effectively as their nominal quarterback.
Edmonton opened with an impressive field-long drive that ended with a Miles to Earl Lindley passing touchdown. Most impressive was that Miles, Faloney and Parker all took turns passing the ball, with the backs regularly utilizing the option. Normie Kwong took responsibility for the north-south running game, for which he, with his low centre of gravity, was so well suited.
The Alouettes responded quickly and spectacularly, with a 90-yard pass-and-run touchdown. Etcheverry threw his "jump" pass, which was literally a pass thrown at the top of a leap taken right after the snap and right behind the centre. His quick release allowed him to hit a streaking O'Quinn about 10 to 15 yards into the secondary, and being on the fly, it caught the Eskimos flat-footed. Jackie Parker, no slouch himself when it came to fleet feet and spaghetti legs, actually caught O'Quinn at the three-yard line, but Red managed to slide to a touchdown. Under today's rules he would have been considered tackled.
Picking up where they left off, the Eskimos engineered another impressive drive, which led to a Faloney one-yard touchdown plunge. This was aided by a pass interference call, in a game where there were few penalties called. Faloney took a high snap on the convert and could not run it in.
The Alouettes showed their expertise in the second quarter. After an Eskimos field goal from Bob Dean, the Larks produced two touchdowns. The first drive ended with yet another O'Quinn reception. The second came at the hands and feet of former NFL first-round draft choice Chuck Hunsinger, on an eight-yard run.
In the third quarter the Als could muster only a single rouge on a missed field goal.
Into the fourth quarter Joey Pal hauled in a bullet Etcheverry pass to put the Als up 25 to 14.
The Eskimos came back to life with a drive that ended with a slashing Glenn Lippman reverse field dash for a touchdown.
Not to be outdone, the Als marched right back down the field. With first and ten on the Eskimos' 10-yard line and three minutes remaining, Etcheverry handed the ball off to Hunsinger, who was almost immediately corralled about 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. In the game's most famous and controversial play he apparently fumbled and Parker snagged the ball on the 20-yard line, in full flight. Etcheverry had no chance to catch him, and he ran 90 yards for the touchdown. With Dean's convert, the score was 26 to 25.
There were still three minutes left in the game, and Etcheverry quickly moved his team downfield. Etcheverry passed to Red O'Quinn at the Eskimos 35-yard line and he quickly spun to face downfield. He was hit and the ball fell to the ground, to be recovered by the Eskimos, who held on to win.
However some fans and analysts question whether it was really a fumble at all. Close examination of the game film shows the ball apparently propelled towards the back of the Alouette who is about 5 yards ahead of Hunsinger. This would be his lineman, Ray Cicia. Cicia had his back to Hunsinger, and being an offensive lineman, was an ineligible receiver, but if Hunsinger did attempt to pass the ball, the play should have been whistled dead and Montreal given a penalty. Had Montreal retained possession they would have almost certainly scored at least a single.
While Hunsinger has gone down in Grey Cup lore as the "goat" of the game, this is most certainly an unfair conclusion. Many forget that it was Red O'Quinn's fumble that sealed the Als' fate and even this fumble is controversial. Als supporters argue that O'Quinn didn't have possession of the ball, and it was an incomplete pass, not a fumble.
There are several Grey Cup records from this game that still stand today. Jackie Parker's 90-yard fumble recovery stood as the longest ever until surpassed in 2017. Red O'Quinn's 13 receptions for 316 yards has not been equalled. Montreal's 656 yards total offence is still the best team performance.
The cold and increasing muddy field conditions contributed to the many fumbles and interceptions that occurred.
This was the first of 11 Grey Cup clashes between Edmonton and Montreal. The Eskimos have won in 1954, 1955, 1956, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2003 and 2005's overtime thriller. The Larks have prevailed in 1974, the Ice Bowl of 1977, and 2002.
The Eskimos versus Alouettes rivalry is one of the most enduring and exciting in modern Canadian professional sports. Contrasted to another famous match up, the Montreal Canadiens versus the Toronto Maple Leafs (who have met in the Stanley Cup final only 5 times, and last in 1967), the hockey clash seems bland by comparison.
- "Grey Cup: 1911". Canadian Football League. Archived from the original on 2009-06-13.
- Source: CBC Grey Cup Classics replay, November 13, 2006.
- "TV Program for Sunday". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Dec 4, 1954. Retrieved July 5, 2014.