Volume 94, Issue 54
Tuesday, December 5, 2000
Cote says no way to Regina in Vanier
By Joel Brown
TORONTO, Ont. Players on the Regina Rams football team may find it a little difficult to sleep over the next little while, as thoughts of what could have been during this past weekend's Vanier Cup championship in Toronto will most likely be on their brains.
They may wake up in a cold sweat, cursing the name of Ottawa Gee Gee quarterback Phil C™té, who led his side to a 42-39 victory on Saturday in front of 18,209 people at Toronto's Skydome.
The relatively diminutive 5'10", 185-pounder made all the difference as he had a monstrous game, despite an injured ankle that put him out of action for Ottawa's two previous play-off games. C™té took home the Ted Morris Trophy for game's most valuable player after completing his first 11 passes and going 16-18 overall, while throwing for 275 yards, rushing for 91 and scoring two touchdowns.
For C™té, Saturday's win was about redemption for Ottawa's loss to the University of British Columbia at the Vanier Cup in 1997.
"We've had a black cloud over our heads for a long time," he said. "We've worked so hard to get this chance again. Now everyone can look at us as a championship team. This is unbelievable we did it all."
Ottawa defensiveback, Scott Gordon, could not say enough of his departing teammate, who will add the championship ring to an awards collection that already includes last year's Hec Crighton honour for the CIAU's top player.
"He's done so much for us over the last five years," Gordon said. "He most deserving of everything he has gotten."
Gordon himself grabbed the Bruce Coulter Award as the game's top defensive player. He made eight tackles and had one interception.
Right from the opening drive, it seemed as though everything went the Gee Gees way. After the Rams managed to work the ball into the red zone, Ottawa defensiveback Brad German intercepted quarterback Daryl Leason's pass near the sidelines and returned it 52 yards.
Ottawa then drove the ball the rest of the way for the touchdown, which was capped by a C™té 4-yard run.
Regina hung close for most of the game but was unable to catch the Gee Gees.
Rams kicker John Ryan had a 37-yard field goal attempt blocked late in the fourth quarter by linebacker Mark Prezlaff, that proved crucial to the game's outcome.
With the score at 42-31 and only five seconds left in the game, Leason connected with slotback Jason Clermont on a 57-yard pass that put the Rams on Ottawa's 25-yard line.
Leason then threw to slotback Chris Warnecke for a touchdown and successfully completed a two-point conversion, but it was not enough, as time had expired in the match.
Marcel Bellefeuille, the Ottawa head coach, said he was not at all surprised with the Rams ability to stay close, despite the outstanding play of his offence.
"We couldn't stop them, that team's got fight," Bellefeuille said. "I'm so proud of that other team, man. They really put a good effort out there."
Leason, who single-handedly carried the Rams offence throughout the game, was distraught by the loss because of his team's missed chances, but still gave credit to Ottawa's play.
"I'm disappointed, but I knew this could happen," he said. "Only one team can win. We tried our best."
The Rams quarterback was the game's leading passer and rusher, going 28-46 on pass attempts for 356 yards while rushing for 116.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000