Venue: Frank Clair Stadium
Location: Ottawa, ON
Date: November 21
Winning Coach: Michael Clemons
Most Valuable Player: Damon Allen, QB, Toronto
Most Valuable Canadian: Jason Clermont, WR, B.C.
Quarterbacks are always in the spotlight during the Grey Cup, but in 2004 it took on greater meaning when the Toronto Argonauts challenged the B.C. Lions.
Toronto was led by the CFL’s all-time leading passer Damon Allen who was traded by B.C. to the Argos the previous season when the Lions signed free agent Dave Dickenson. It was an opportunity at redemption for the 41-year old Allen on the grandest stage.
For Lions head coach Wally Buono, he was faced with a quarterbacking quandary. Casey Printers, the upstart sophomore quarterback who replaced an injured Dickenson early in the regular season, went on to become the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2004. But Printers injured his throwing shoulder in the West Final, forcing Buono to start Dickenson in the Grey Cup.
At first, it looked like a moot point, as Dickenson was a perfect 6-for-6 for 65 yards on B.C.’s opening drive. Dickenson hit Jason Clermont on a 12-yard pass to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.
It remained that way until the second quarter, when the Argos rallied to take the lead. Following a 27-yard field goal by Noel Prefontaine, the Argos recorded their first major. Allen hit Robert Baker for two long passes before taking it in himself from the one-yard line.
The Lions tied the game on a 42-yard field goal by Duncan O’Mahony, but Allen led another drive capped by a 23-yard touchdown toss to Baker. Toronto led 17-10 at the half.
Toronto continued the pressure in the second half. The Argos marched downfield and scored on an Allen plunge on their opening possession for a 24-10 lead. Following a 36-yard field goal by O’Mahony, the Argos received a scare when Allen went down with a leg cramp. Backup quarterback Michael Bishop manned the controls of Toronto’s offence until Allen returned six minutes into the fourth quarter.
Dickenson engineered a 100-yard scoring drive, ending on his five-yard touchdown run into the end zone. But the Lions were penalized twice on time-count violations while attempting a two-point convert. As a result Buono opted for a single-point attempt, and O’Mahony’s kick went wide.
The Argos pushed down to the B.C. 10-yard line with less than three minutes remaining, resulting in Prefontaine’s 16-yard field goal.
The Lions narrowly missed gaining a lot of real estate when Dickenson missed the outstretched hands of Geroy Simon on a long bomb attempt. Toronto ultimately ran out the clock as they celebrated another championship.