Ottawa Rough Riders

Damon Allen - Quarterback - Cal State Fullerton - Ottawa 1989-91

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`It wouldn't be the same if I came into this stadium and the Southsiders (Rough Riders fans) weren't saying anything,'' Allen said. ``And, if they don't say (Hobart) tomorrow, I'll know something is wrong with them.''

 

B.C. (4-5) has won three straight, including a thriller last week against Montreal. It was the Alouettes' first loss this year and featured sensational performances from Lions quarterback Damon Allen and CFL offensive player-of-the-week Alfred Jackson, a receiver. Ottawa (2-7-0-1) needs a win to stay in playoff contention.

 

The Riders signed Allen as a free agent two days after the 1988

 season ended. His image was slapped on a poster with those of kicker Dean Dorsey and running back Orville Lee in a marketing campaign, "Rider Rage'' designed by then general manager Jo-Anne Polak. Ottawa had suffered five consecutive losing seasons and a revolving door at quarterback provided little optimism. Then Allen arrived with new head coach Steve Goldman.

 

Allen had come off the bench to lead the Edmonton Eskimos to a comeback victory against the Toronto Argonauts in the 1987 Grey Cup. He was, effectively, a starter who had the misfortune of playing behind Matt Dunigan for three seasons and Tracy Ham for one.

 

Ottawa started 0-9 in `89 and the new regime was under heat. In the 13th game, Allen tore ligaments in his thumb, but he asked to be put back into the game late after his backup, Willie Gillus, was also injured. With no other quarterback on the sidelines, defensive back Steve Howlett, now a Renegades assistant, had been forced in at quarterback. Polak, who was being taunted in the press box while Howlett took the snaps from centre, said the incident was humiliating until Allen stepped up, risking his career to save face for the franchise.

 

``It was the lowest point of the three years I was there, from a football standpoint,'' Polak said Thursday. ``And, because of that, I'll always be a huge Damon Allen fan.''

 

With two games remaining in the season, Hobart, coming off a three-year sabbatical, was under centre for an injured Allen.

Hobart netted as many victories - two - as Allen had, and he wasn't being paid $180,000. The season finale, a win over Winnipeg, capped a 4-14 season and gave birth to the fans' love affair with Hobart (pictured left). Goldman didn't want Hobart back in 1990, but fan and media opinion prevailed.

 

``He told me he brought me in only for the two games, but that the media was on his back,'' Hobart said from his home in Idaho.

Allen was again the starter, but Hobart would often begin to warm up on the sidelines behind the bench - without Goldman's permission. Polak and Allen say it was to intentionally rile up the Southsiders, but Hobart claims he was just trying to ``stay loose.'' Either way, chants of ``Hobarrrt'' would rain down every time.

 

``I didn't do anything to egg the fans on. They were just hungry to win,'' Hobart said. ``Goldman would always glare at me every time it happened. It was pretty uncomfortable.''

 

With Allen injured for a game at Calgary, Hobart played and Allen could be seen on the sidelines, relishing his backup's struggles. Polak was furious and confronted Allen after the game. That's when he told her about Hobart's sideline antics.

``I was pretty pissed off and then I started hearing the real side of the story,'' Polak said. ``I remember Damon being stabbed in the back by Ken Hobart.''

 

In 1991, Allen rushed for a career-high 1,036 yards and threw a career-worst 31 interceptions. He left the Riders for Hamilton following the season after leading Ottawa to two playoff appearances (both losses) in three years.

 

 

-- statistics --

 

 

Damon Allen   Cal State Fullerton  
    Passing        
Yr Team Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg
1985 Edm 98 48 661 49 3 3 54
1986 Edm 87 49 878 56.3 8 3 75
1987 Edm 287 150 2,670 52.3 17 13 97
1988 Edm 218 94 1,309 43.1 4 12 44
1989 Ott 434 209 3,093 48.2 17 16 78
1990 Ott 528 276 3,883 52.3 34 23 74
1991 Ott 546 282 4,275 51.6 24 31 70
1992 Ham 523 266 3,858 50.9 19 14 82
1993 Edm 400 214 3,394 53.5 25 10 102
1994 Edm 493 254 3,554 51.5 19 15 77
1995 Mps 390 228 3,211 58.5 11 13 73
1996 BC 368 219 2,772 59.5 13 10 64
1997 BC 583 378 4,653 64.8 21 11 73
1998 BC 479 282 3,519 58.9 16 16 85
1999 BC 521 315 4,219 60.5 22 13 78
2000 BC 525 324 4,840 61.7 24 11 67
2001 BC 471 251 3,631 53.3 18 14 78
2002 BC 474 268 3,987 56.5 22 10 109
2003 Tor 450 267 3,395 59.3 17 10 102
2004 Tor 312 189 2,438 60.6 12 4 63
2005 Tor 549 352 5,082 64.1 33 15 90
2006 Tor 335 198 2,567 59.1 12 11 83
2007 Tor 67 45 492 67.2 3 0 36
Total 23 9138 5158 72,381 56.4 394 278 109

 

    Rushing    
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1985 Edm 36 190 5.3 18 5
1986 Edm 31 245 7.9 39 6
1987 Edm 66 562 8.5 40 6
1988 Edm 33 130 3.9 13 1
1989 Ott 75 532 7.1 51 1
1990 Ott 124 776 6.3 41 7
1991 Ott 129 1,036 8.0 42 8
1992 Ham 111 850 7.7 37 7
1993 Edm 120 920 7.7 43 6
1994 Edm 120 707 5.9 43 7
1995 Mps 63 427 6.8 25 0
1996 BC 52 400 7.7 31 2
1997 BC 111 837 7.5 28 8
1998 BC 115 782 6.8 29 2
1999 BC 136 785 5.8 30 8
2000 BC 58 284 4.9 34 2
2001 BC 86 580 6.7 45 2
2002 BC 70 479 6.8 22 4
2003 Tor 76 507 6.7 26 4
2004 Tor 40 212 5.3 32 3
2005 Tor 85 467 5.5 26 4
2006 Tor 25 197 7.9 22 0
2007 Tor 4 15 3.8 6 0
Total 23 1766 11,920 6.7 51 93