- 1994 -
11 Wins 6 Losses 1 Tie - 3rd Place West Division
G Kingston – Vancouver Sun – Oct 2010
VANCOUVER — The 1994 B.C. Lions will forever be remembered as the Canadian Football League team that upheld the pride of the Maple Leaf on home soil while completing one of the most magical, unbelievable and blessed playoff runs in league history.
But as many of the players gathered in Vancouver on Thursday — minus a few Americans certain to have been taken into custody at the border — they laughed heartily about how a dysfunctional group became a brotherhood at the right time.
“We were just laughing and joking about that,” centre Ian Sinclair said at a luncheon in advance of the team’s formal induction Thursday night into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. “That was the oddest and funnest and most unique locker room I’ve ever been a part of. It was crazy.”
Coached by grandfatherly Dave Ritchie, who cornerback Less Browne called the Pied Piper because of the way players seemed to follow him from team to team, the Lions were an enigmatic group.
“Let’s just say we had to do a lot of praying,” said Ritchie, nearly choking he was laughing so hard. “But between the lines, they played, oh they played.”
There were hard-living, mouthy miscreants like Barry Wilburn, James Jefferson, Ty Jones and Ray Alexander. And there was a healthy contingent of Christians who spent more time in Bible study than in bars and brothels.
“It was a big love-hate fest every team meeting,” said slotback Mike Trevathan, a Montana native who now is the director of auxiliary enterprises at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. “We were dysfunctional and that’s an understatement.”
Still, with all the misfits and believers “and guys like me who were kind of crossovers, somehow that all worked out.”
Trevathan, sporting his gaudy Grey Cup ring, had to chuckle when noting some of the absentees and the fact he, himself, had no trouble crossing the border and returning to Vancouver for the first time since leaving B.C. in 1997.
“I actually paid all my taxes. I’m in good shape.”
“There were some really weird characters, a lot of yappers,” recalled the Ontario-born Sinclair of a team that went 11-6-1 in the regular-season to finish third in the West behind Calgary and Edmonton. “There was the odd tussle here and there. We had a really robust group of guys.
“We had all the talent in the world, but we were struggling and we were our own worst enemy. Then finally, at the end of the year, we realized it. We said, ‘Wait a minute, if we buckle down, we can make a run at this thing.’ ”
They went into Edmonton and beat the Eskimos 24-23 on a last-minute Lui Passaglia field goal after defensive back Charles Gordon intercepted a ill-advised Damon Allen pass at the goal line and returned it to midfield.
A week later, in the snow at Calgary in one of the most dramatic CFL playoff games of all time, the Lions blocked a late Stampeder field-goal attempt and Darren Flutie scored a touchdown on the game’s final play on a pass from Danny McManus for a 37-36 win.
That set up a B.C.-Baltimore matchup for the Grey Cup at BC Place Stadium. Baltimore was part of the CFL’s short-lived U.S. expansion and played with a roster consisting of all American players, heightening the game’s patriotism theme as B.C. played all Canadians on the offensive and defensive lines.
“You tried not to put it out of your mind because you didn’t want it to be a distraction or to put more pressure on yourselves,” said Sinclair. “But deep down, you knew there was a very Canadiana thing going on. We did not want that Cup to go south of the border. We were going to fight tooth and nail to make sure it stayed north.”
With the offensive line opening big holes for Cory Philpot and Sean Millington, an individual athlete inductee on Thursday, Flutie pulling off a successful fake field goal that led to a McManus touchdown run and defensive back Tony Collier recovering a Baltimore fumble on the B.C. one-yard line, the Lions hung tough.
Then, with no time left on the clock, with a crowd of 55,000 going crazy, Passaglia booted a 38-yard field goal for the winning points in a 26-23 win.
“We couldn’t have won that game without our Canadians,” said Browne, who retired after the season and who now coaches high school basketball and football in Hamilton, Ont. “They were psyched and focused. Baltimore had kicked our butts during the regular season and we were big-time underdogs playing at our own house. But the offensive line, the defensive line, they came to play.”
“The whole playoff run was unbelievable,” said slotback Matt Clark, now a high school golf and football coach in Portland, Ore. “I sit and try to explain to people [how tight the three games were] and they don’t believe it. Everybody’s like ‘Yeah, whatever.’ It was a great run.”
Sinclair said it was terrific reconnecting with teammates on Thursday.
“You know, there’s things I couldn’t remember no matter what, until I see a person’s face. You see guys that walk up to each other and just start laughing before any words are even being spoken. All those memories archived in that data bank [in your head] just coming rushing back. It’s really, really cool.”
Danny McManus scores in the Grey Cup past Tracey Gravely
1994 Team Statistics
Avg Att: 25,274
Week 1 v Winnipeg
In the span of just 9:33, the Lions overcame a 15-point deficit with TDs by Ray Alexander on a 26-yard catch, QB Kent Austin's 1-yard plunge and Virgil Robertson's 19-yard fumble return.
Week 2 @ Ottawa
Lions QB Kent Austin threw four TD passes, including a pair to Freeman Baysinger, as B.C. rolled and K Lui Passaglia tied Ron Lancaster's CFL record with his 288th career game.
Week 3 v Hamilton
Hamilton 25 (OT)
It was Lui Passaglia's night but not until the Lions scored 17 points in overtime to defeat the Ti-Cats. Passaglia played in his 289th game, a CFL record.
Week 4 @ Calgary
Doug Flutie ran for two TDs and threw for two more, as the Stamps, for the second straight week, set a team record for points scored.
Week 5 v Scramento
Mike Trevathan caught two TD passes and Sean Millington ran for two as the Lions dominated from the start. Charles Gordon had three interceptions for the Lions.
Week 6 v Toronto
Lions CB Less Browne, who is retiring at the end of the year, picked off two more passes and blocked a kick to key a comeback. The teams combined for more than 900 passing yards.
Week 7 @ Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS 16
Giulio Caravatta, the third-string QB turned emergency kicker, kicked three second-half FGs and added a single to spark the Lions' run of 21 straight fourth-quarter points.
Week 8 v Shreveport
The 67 points set a new record for most points scored by a B.C. team in a single game. The Lions scored five TDs in the first half and four in the second. Shreveport held a brief 6-0 lead.
Week 9 @ Sacramemto
BC 15 (OT)
Paul McCallum's four FGs and three singles accounted for all B.C.'s points. With four seconds left in OT, Lions' Mike Trevathan's single attempt from near midfield fell short.
Week 10 @ Toronto
B.C, got most of what it needed, 17 points, in the last part of the second quarter, turning a 3-1 first-quarter lead into a 20-1 lead at halftime.
Week 11 v Edmonton
Esks QB Damon Allen threw 24- and 29-yard TD passes to Eddie Brown and a 22-yarder to FB Michael Soles, while BC's Spencer McLennan returned a missed FG 109 yards for a TD.
Week 12 @ Winnipeg
The Winnipeg defence forced four Lions' fumbles and picked off three passes. Three of the fumble recoveries became Winnipeg TDs, while K Troy Westwood hit a 57-yard FG.
Week 13 @ Edmonton
B.C. kicker Lui Passaglia's last- minute FG propelled B.C. into second place in the CFL West. Edmonton's Sean Fleming had moved the Eskimos ahead 24-23 with 10:33 to go.
Week 14 v Saskatchewan
Lui Passaglia kicked a 31-yard FG as time expired to give the error-prone Lions the win. B.C. committed six turnovers, but Passaglia was perfect on three field goal attempts.
Week 15 @ Saskatchewan
Tom Burgess turned in one of his best showings of the CFL season by throwing four TD passes to lead the Roughriders. Elbert Turner caught two of the TD tosses.
Week 16 @ Baltimore
Tracy Ham threw a season-high four TD passes and Mike Pringle rushed for 216 yards and a TD as Baltimore pranced all over the league's top-ranked defence.
Week 17 v Las Vegas
Las Vegas 7
The Lions clinched at least third place in the West by demolishing visiting Las Vegas, as QB Danny McManus passed for 355 yards.
Week 18 v Calgary
Doug Flutie threw a 28-yard pass to Allen Pitts for the only score of the fourth quarter as the Stampeders wrapped up another 15-3 season.
@ EDMONTON 23
Lui Passaglia kicked a 27-yard FG with 32 seconds left, lifting the Lions over the defending Grey Cup champions. DB Charles Gordon intercepted Damon Allen near the Lions' goal line to set up the winning drive.
@ CALGARY 36
Danny McManus threw a 4-vard TD pass to Darren Flutie with no time left, giving B.C the win. Flutie caught three TD passes and carried the Lions past a team quarterbacked by his brother, Doug, who completed 24 of 34 passes for 311 yards, a TD and two interceptions.
BC LIONS 26,
BALTIMORE CFL'S 23
The 82nd Grey Cup is considered by many to be one of the ten best Grey Cup games of all time, because it was a nail-biter from start-to-finish. The score was deadlocked at 23-23 after both clubs exchanged FGs in the fourth. Lions K Lui Passaglia had an opportunity to kick a 37-yard FG with 1:02 left, but he missed. Baltimore was unable to advance the ball on their next possession, going two-and-out, and giving the ball back to BC with excellent field position. Passaglia received another opportunity for the winning kick with no time remaining, and he made good on a 38-yard attempt to keep the Grey Cup in Canada. Passaglia's last-second field goal was named the greatest play in BC Lions history in 2007.