“Deon Beasley takes it to the end zone… and flips out… and so does this stadium!” It’s one of Rod Black’s memorable CFL calls, coming on the final play of a 2010 walk-off Winnipeg Blue Bombers win over the B.C. Lions.
For those who don’t remember, this berserk game is from October 11, 2010 — Canadian Thanksgiving. Travis Lulay started for B.C., Alex Brink for Winnipeg. Neither finished the game, and Winnipeg erased a 32-11 deficit in the fourth quarter in improbable fashion.
Winnipeg Erases 21-point Deficit in CFL Instant Classic
In a 47-35 game, both teams came out struggling offensively in the first half.
The Bombers got out to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter that featured four completed passes combined. The Lions scraped their way back to score four points of their own, then Fred Reid busted open for a 44-yard touchdown run for the Bombers.
“He [Reid] was one of the best backs I ever played with,” said Brink. “When you have a guy like that on your squad and he bursts one off, it gives you a ton of confidence.”
But the offensive woes continued for both teams, as Winnipeg took a 11-8 lead at the half.
B.C. pulled away in the second half, scoring 24 points in the third quarter to Winnipeg’s three. Yonus Davis scored on a 73-yard punt return for the Lions, then Geroy Simon and Emmanuel Arceneaux hauled in touchdown passes — making it 32-11 for B.C.
“Things were working for us,” said former Lions receiver O’Neil Wilson. “And then the game changed, it’s a whole new game when there’s a new quarterback.”
Enter Steven Jyles
A 21-point deficit was enough for Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice to make a change at quarterback. Brink had gone 4/18 for 61 yards — 45 of those yards from one play — in his first CFL start for Winnipeg.
“It was an incredible learning lesson for me,” said Brink. “I mean, that was one of those days as a quarterback when you’re just trying to find a way to pull yourself out of it right, in any way possible. And sometimes as a young player it’s hard. B.C. had a good defence and defensive backs that were veterans — [Dante] Marsh, [Ryan] Phillips, Korey Banks.”
In came Steven Jyles for the Bombers, and on the other sidelines came in Casey Printers for Lulay, who left with an injured finger.
Former Bombers receiver Greg Carr, who had five catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in the game, said Winnipeg’s offence couldn’t get in a rhythm at the start.
“We kind of knew that week that it could have been either quarterback that played,” said Carr. “Jyles ended up going into the game and I guess the rest is history from there.”
Chaos in the Fourth Quarter
Jyles went to work quickly, hitting Cory Watson for a 46-yard completion and then Terrence Edwards for a 15-yard score to make it 32-21 B.C. Moments after, things got wacky.
Lions defensive back Davis Sanchez started a brawl with Edwards, and Sanchez received the only two penalties for a sum of 25 yards. Then on the point after attempt, B.C. defensive back Stanley Franks received a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
Forty yards of penalties later, Winnipeg was kicking-off to B.C. from the Lions’ 35 yard line.
“He could’ve kicked it up into the stands back at Canad Inns Stadium,” laughed Brink.
Justin Palardy would notch a single for Winnipeg despite him and the other 11 Bombers attempting to recover their own kick. 32-22 Lions.
The game slowed down for the next seven minutes until a crucial decision faced B.C. head coach Wally Buono. With 2:20 remaining, Buono elected to punt from Winnipeg’s 43.
Seven plays later, Jyles connected with Greg Carr on a 39-yard score in double coverage.
“I remember Jyles telling me he was going to give me a chance,” said Carr. “Once the ball kind of got up in the air, at first I was like ‘Oh man they are going to close in on me’ but they misjudged the ball and I came down with it… I remember dropping to my knees.”
The Lions were still in control. Palardy booted his onside kick out of bounds, and after a B.C. two-and-out they were punting from Winnipeg’s 49 with 47 seconds left, up 32-29.
Jovon Johnson’s Magic
Johnson, who doubled as the Bombers’ punt returner, then did the improbable.
“I started out going toward the field, and then nothing was there,” said Johnson when talking about the 59-yard punt return. “So I ended up stopping and cutting back and then all of the blocks were set up.”
“Being down three points, 30 seconds left, it’s like hitting a buzzer-beater in a basketball game,” said Johnson. “Instant field position and field goal range, it’s one of those plays that you never forget.”
Palardy nailed a 42-yard field goal two plays later, tying the game at 32 with a second left.
“We were expecting them not even to kick to Jovon, he’s a dynamic guy,” said Carr.
The Lions started with the ball in overtime and kicked a 30-yard field goal.
Winnipeg nearly got put out of field goal range on their possession after a Jonathan Brown sack, but a 25-yard Khalif Mitchell disqualification penalty negated Brown’s play for B.C. Mitchell had punched Bombers’ offensive lineman Andre Douglas during the play.
Palardy then kicked a 32-yard field goal, sending the game to double overtime.
“We felt we had already took their best shot, and we had yet to give them ours,” said Carr.
Winnipeg started with the ball in the second overtime, where backup running back Yvenson Bernard capped off a four-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run. 41-35 Bombers.
Deon Beasley Plays Hero
Dorian Smith sacked Printers on the first play of the Lions’ must-score drive, setting up a second-and-19 due to a procedure penalty on B.C. as well.
The next play was the game’s final play, as Printers attempted a 10-yard throw to Wilson on the far sideline, but Winnipeg’s Deon Beasley intercepted it in full stride.
“It was kind of a bailout throw, hoping for the best,” said Wilson, who wasn’t the play’s primary receiver. “When the ball was thrown, I was already settled in that area, knowing what the coverage is. And then next thing you know, Beasley came out of nowhere.”
Beasley ran the ball back 72 yards for the game-ending touchdown, completing Winnipeg’s 21-point comeback with a 47-35 win.
“Everybody knows when you’re throwing from the hash to the far sideline, you better be sure that you can make that throw as the ball feels like it’s in the air for about three minutes,” said Brink. “He [Beasely] attacked that ball like a receiver and was off to the races. I remember everybody took off down the sidelines because that was the ballgame.”
Only teammate Joe Lobendahn was in Beasley’s vicinity as he broke to the end zone.
“Once he jumped it I knew he was going to let nobody stop him from scoring,” said Carr.
The throw was Printers’ last in the CFL as the Lions released Printers two days later. The former CFL Most Outstanding Player had a tantrum before leaving the field in Winnipeg.
“He was upset about throwing an interception, which happens for every quarterback,” said Wilson.
Recent CFL Classics between Winnipeg and B.C.
The Canadian Thanksgiving thriller wasn’t the only memorable game from the past decade between these two teams.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images