The 1980's concluded with one of the greatest games in the history of the Grey Cup. Dave Ridgway’s 35 yard field goal with two seconds to play gave the Saskatchewan Roughriders a thrilling 43-40 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Playing at the newly opened SkyDome in Toronto, the 'Riders won just their second title in club history and first since 1966.
The Tiger-Cats jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a pair of field goals by Paul Osbaldiston. Following a Terry Baker punt that put the Roughriders on the scoreboard, Ticats quarterback Mike Kerrigan hit Tony Champion with a 13-yard pass to give Hamilton a 13-1 lead. The second quarter produced five consecutive drives by both teams which resulted in touchdowns. Kent Austin completed a five-yard pass to Ray Elgaard for Saskatchewan's initial major. But Hamilton responded when Kerrigan connected with running back Derrick McAdoo on a 30-yard play.
The fireworks continued when Austin combined with Jeff Fairholm for a 75-yard touchdown. Kerrigan responded with a Hamilton scoring drive that ended when McAdoo plunged into the end zone on a goal-line carry. The Roughriders added another touchdown in the final minute of the second half when Austin hit Donald Narcisse on a five-yard pass. Narcisse beat Hamilton receiver Earl Winfield on the play, who was subbing for an injured Lance Shields. The Ticats led 27-22 in the half.
Things slowed down a tad in the third quarter. The teams exchanged field goals before the Roughriders moved out in front. Osbaldiston’s conceded safety was followed by a Tim McCray one-yard score giving the Roughriders a 34-30 lead. The teams exchanged field goals again in the fourth quarter before Ridgway split the uprights from 20 yards away to put the Roughriders in front by a converted touchdown.
But the Ticats were not finished. With 44 seconds remaining, Champion made a spectacular backward diving catch in the end zone to tie the score at 40. That was enough time for the Roughriders to put together a winning drive setting the stage for Ridgway’s heroics.
In the week leading up to the game Ridgway told reporters he didn’t want the game to be decided by his foot in the final minute. In the end that’s exactly what happened, but Ridgway got through the moment unscathed. After it was over, 15 Grey Cup records had been tied or set, most notably total points by both teams in one game.
The 1989 Classic is considered one of the most exciting Grey Cups of all time.