Friday, July 30, 2004

Yogi was right... 

I don't know where to start.

It was like a horrible nightmare that turned into a wet dream. Goats became heroes. Cats lived in harmony with dogs.

After bumbling through the first 3.5 quarters of the game, the Renegades overcame a 15 point deficit in the last 8 minutes (and 9 points in the last 2) to down the Stampeders 31-30. The 'Gades were given a generous hand by coach Dunigan and the Stamps when, inexplicably, with less than a minute left, QB Tommy Jones rolled out of the pocket, giving Kelly Wiltshire the opportunity to make a great play to strip him of the ball. The Renegades then moved down the field (thanks in large part to a 41-yard completion to Ranek) where Sandro Sciortino split the uprights from 31 yards out, allowing the small, but suddenly vocal remaining crowd to release its collectively held breath.

Sciortino's fellow past whipping boy, Demitrius Bendross, was also instrumental in the comeback, making 2 TD catches, including one on 3rd and 27 that made the score 29-21 at the time (the story of the single that made it 30-21 is a whole other bizarre subplot and is covered pretty well in the Sun this morning). My heart skipped a beat while I scanned the surrounding turf for signs of the ball, I was able to breath a sigh of relief, if only for a night.

For your performance last night, gentlemen Bendross and Sciortino, all your past follies are forgiven. For penance of my past doubt, I offer you this not-quite-"5-7-5"-regulation quasi-haiku. Like a CFL field it is wider and longer:

hands once slippery
ball once wide, and/or short
now hands of glue and leg of gold

Lest it be forgotten in the euphoria of an unexpected comeback, the Renegades' offence was otherwise brutally bad last night. The O didn't pick up a first down until halfway through the second quarter. Almost as many plays lost yardage, as gained it in the first half. The defence was passable, and did an admirable job of holding the Stampeders to FGs in the first half, but this was a game that the Renegades deserved to lose. Hopefully they don't lose sight of that just because they won.

However, I prefer to dwell on the positive. I think coach Paopao summed it up well with these wise words after the game:

"Wow. Wow. Wow."

That about says it all. Too bad half the fans missed it, or heard it on the radio on the way home. Maybe that'll make 'em think twice about leaving before it's over, because Yogi Berra is a wise man. It really ain't over 'till it's over. Especially in the CFL. Especially when Matt Dunigan is the coach.

My season ticket mates left just after the Renegades failed to recover the onside kick with a minute left. They came running back seconds later when Wiltshire forced the fumble. You never know. Only in the CFL.

It was a first half that I never want to think about again, but it's a finish I won't forget for a long time.

(Next up are the Lions, who smoked the Alouettes last night, but I'm trying not to think about them too much just yet.)