Raghib Ismail, WR, Toronto
Raghib 'Rocket' Ismail’s 87 yard kickoff return for a touchdown lifted the Toronto Argonauts to a hard-fought 36-21 victory over the Calgary Stampeders in the 1991 Grey Cup. Ismail, a much publicized pickup by the Argos in the off-season, shattered a Grey Cup record when he returned the kickoff with 10:26 remaining in the fourth quarter. The return sealed the fate of the Stampeders.
Although the game was held in Winnipeg for the first time, it had more of a Hollywood-type feeling. The Argonauts capped off a memorable season under the new ownership of L.A. Kings owner Bruce McNall, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and actor John Candy with their win over the Stampeders.
The Argos started the game with a bang as defensive back Ed Berry intercepted Calgary quarterback Danny Barrett’s first pass attempt and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
Barrett made up for this miscue late in the first quarter, calling his own number on a one-yard run over the goal line. Toronto led 8-7 after 15 minutes. The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter, as the Argos carried their one-point lead into halftime. The Toronto offence got kick started in the second half. With the Argos trailing 14-12 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, quarterback Matt Dunigan threw a 48-yard strike to Darrell K. Smith, giving the Boatmen some life.
Reggie Pleasant stepped in front of a Barrett pass in the fourth quarter, helping to set up a Lance Chomyc field goal to make it a 22-14 score. It was Pleasant’s second interception of the game. Calgary receiver Allen Pitts narrowed the gap to 22-21 on a 12-yard touchdown reception. But Ismail’s return on the ensuing kickoff ended any hopes of a Stampeder comeback.
Keyvan Jenkins fumbled on the following kickoff, and Argos linebacker Keith Castello covered the ball to set up a 36-yard touchdown from Dunigan to Paul Masotti. Dunigan played the game with a broken collarbone, suffering the injury in the East Final. He was shot up with Novocain prior to the game. He was 12 of 29 passing for 142 yards. “Half these tears are joy and half are pain,” Dunigan quipped following the game. Barrett produced more yards, but his three interceptions came back to haunt him. He was 34 of 56 passing for 377 yards.
Calgary had 28 first downs compared to Toronto’s seven. The Stampeders had 406 yards of total offence compared to 174 for the Argos. It was one of the coldest Grey Cup games ever, with game time temperature -17 degrees Celsius. It was Toronto’s first title since 1983.