Ottawa Rough Riders
- 1996 -
3 Wins 15 Losses - 4th Place East Division
David Archer arrived to be the white knight for Ottawa in 1996
August 30, 1996 - Frank Clair Stadium
Ottawa 17 - Montreal 6
With the Ottawa Rough Riders franchise facing the threat of extinction the club met the Montreal Alouettes at Frank Clair Stadium on a summer evening on August 30, 1996. One night in a season or decade or generation of franchise blunders that had left a public with little to cheer or care about from the team. On that night in October 28,451 paying customers came to pay tribute to a 120 year old Canadian sports institution that was facing extinction. The beleaguered team responded to the support to give the city one final glowing moment before fading into history. Facing a supremely talented Alouette team with both Mike Pringle and Elfrid Payton returned from NFL camps the outlook was not good. The team responded for the city and deafening cheers that night proved undeniably what football could be in that city. What follows is an article from Tim Harper of the Toronto Star on that night in Ottawa:
Excerpted - Tim Harper - Ottawa Bureau - Toronto Star - October 15, 1996
OTTAWA - Kieran Marks got to stay up late last night. And although the sense of history may have been lost on the 10-week-old infant, it was paramount in the minds of his father Mitch Marks, a young man who grew up with the Ottawa Rough Riders when a late summer night at old Lansdowne Park was a way of life here.
"Just in case this is it, I wanted my son to be able to come to a game here," Marks said.
"This could be his first and his last" said Kieran's mother Janice Marks.
There was no mistaking the sense of occasion as the Rough Riders took on the Montreal Alouettes.
With a 120-year tradition in its death throes, football fans in the national capital responded. So did the Riders, who scored a 17-6 victory over the Alouettes before 28,451 cheering, chanting fans - better than double the season average. They finally flocked to the stadium to watch a team which has won nine Grey Cups but is no longer a part of the fabric of the city.
They know no one is crying wolf anymore and on a gorgeous late summer evening they flocked to the park out of a sense of fear, nostalgia, the inherent drama of the possibility that this would be the last kickoff ever.
In some cases they came out of guilt.
But as they rose as one to salute their team as it took the field in its most desperate hour, there were unmistakable realities at play. Even the most enthusiastic among them were staying away from predictions that this team would ever play again.
Many were old friends of the team who had drifted away only to return sheepishly, the way one would skulk into a hospital upon learning a long lost friend was near the end.
Quarterback David Archer hit Wayne Walker for a 33 yard touchdown strike with 1:23 remaining in the first half for the decisive points in the 17-6 victory. The fans cheered their team and the Rough Riders responded. While the enthusiasm for the club would fizzle out for the season and the team ultimately fold at the end of the year-the late August night in Ottawa provided a lasting image and lasting victory for the Rough Rider fans in attendance that night.
James Ellingson hauls in a Touchdown pass
1996 Team Statistics
Frank Clair Stadium
Avg Att: 16,847
Week 1 @ Hamilton
Week 2 v. Saskatchewan
The announced crowd was the worst turnout since Lansdowne Park was reconfigured in the 1950s. Robert Mimbs and Peter Tuipulotu scored fourth-quarter TDs for Saskatchewan.
Week 3 v BC
British Columbia 31
Joseph Roger's 5-yard TD with 18 seconds left gave the troubled Riders a dramatic come-from-behind win, as Lui Passaglia's 51-yard FG attempt with no time remaining fell short.
Week 4 @ Toronto
Doug Flutie threw two TD passes and ran for another as the Argonauts extended the Riders' club-record road losing
Week 5 v. Edmonton
With the Riders on the road for the next two weeks, the team is facing a critical cash flow problem, while new team president Jim Durrell called this loss "a disgraceful performance".
Week 6 @ Edmonton
Week 7 @ Winnipeg
Winnipeg RB Michael Richardson carried 0 times for 120 yards, as the Bombers needed 52 minutes to overtake the Riders, moving ahead on a 55-yard pass from Kent Austin to Eric Guliford.
Week 8 v. Toronto
Mike Clemons scored three TDs and caught seven passes for 97 yards to lead the Argos. Doug Flutie completed 22-of-38 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns.
Week 9 @ Toronto
David Archer threw for 312 yards and three TDs in the troubled Riders' sixth straight loss and 18th consecutive road defeat. Toronto QB Doug Flutie passed for 415 yards and two TDs.
Week 10 v Montreal
Ottawa opened up a 17-0 halftime lead that held until the final quarter, when Montreal booted a pair of FGs. The Riders had until Monday to find about $1.6 million to stay solvent
Week 11 - Bye
Week 12 @ Saskatchewan
Two last-minute TDs set up after interceptions of Saskatchewan passes rewarded Ottawa supporters and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.
Week 13 v Hamilton
Hamilton K Paul Osbaldiston booted three unanswered FGs in the final 4:45, the last a 33-yarder into a stiff headwind with no time left on the clock, and kicked eight in all for the win.
Week 14 @ Calgary
Kelvin Anderson ran for 77 yards and his 11th TD of the season as the Stamps ended a three-game skid. He scored from four yards to end the third and give the Stamps the lead for good.
Week 15 v Calgary
Calgary needed a fourth-quarter TD run by QB Jeff Garcia to hold off the pesky Riders, who tried to rally from an 18-3 deficit, but saw their playoff hopes come to an end.
Week 16 v Montreal
Week 17 @ Montreal
Gary Harrell, Anthony Drawhorn, Mike Pringle and Michael Soles scored TDs for the Als, who built a 39-11 lead before surrendering two late TDs. Terry Baker added three FGs.
Week 18 v Winnipeg
The Bomber defence put up two TDs and Troy Westwood hit a 21-yard FG with 12 seconds remaining to ruin the Riders' last home game.
Week 19 @ BC
BRIT COLUMBIA 35,