Monday, February 29, 2016

Mosaic Memories Part 1 - Top 6 Regular Season Memories

I was originally going to just do one post on my favourite games played at Mosaic but I quickly realized that would leave some quality regular season games off the list. So I determined a look specifically at the regular season was needed. I also had to add a bonus entry to this list as I was unable to cut one of these to get down to a Top 5. Remember when going through that I didn’t start going to football games until the late 90s so my list is very heavy on recent games.

6 - 1995 Packed House vs. the Stampeders
This one will always stick with me because it was one of the first Rider games my mom ever took me to.

1995 was a big year for Taylor Field. For the first time ever, the Grey Cup was awarded to Regina. They crammed a ton of temporary seats in to get capacity up to 55,000 (over double normal capacity, and like 10 times more than normal attendance in that era). In retrospect most of those temporary stands would probably violate today’s safety standards.

On October 14, as a test run for the Grey Cup, the team had a Pack the Stadium game. 55,438 people showed up and in a surprising turn of events actually saw the Riders win despite being huge underdogs. I’ll never forget that the sight and sound of that crowd. It was a pretty awesome introduction to the Taylor Field experience.

5 - Szarka TD vs Montreal
I honestly forget exactly what game this was but it would have to be somewhere in the 2003-2005 era. I remember this was during a time when the Als were an extremely blitz heavy defense. On this particular play, the Als blitzed the house, the QB had just enough time to flip the ball over the blitz to a wide-open Chris Szarka. I don't know who was more surprised at how open Szarka was, the crowd or him. After a brief pause, Szarka started trucking down the field. Had to be like 60 yards... which meant I could have ran to the bathroom and still made it back for the end of the run. It looked like Szarka might be caught but Matt Dominguez came in a de-cleated the would be tackling (just unloaded on the guy) and Szarka scored. I don't remember who won (I think we did despite being huge underdogs) but I will never forget that play.

4 - Omar Morgan Blocked Kicked
September 2005, Eskimos are in town. After a hard fought game the Riders are clinging to a 1 point lead as the Esks drive the field. With no time left on the clock Hayden Epstein lines up a game winning 31 yard FG. In the stands people are praying for a miracle but expecting the worst. I remember thinking maybe he shanks this and it goes to OT but even that I knew was highly unlikely. The snap went back and all I remember is hearing the kick then seeing the the ball fly straight up in the air before Taylor Field erupted into bedlam. Omarr Morgan (who by the way had a pick 6 that game) came around the edge and got a hand on the kick. That remains among the craziest, most excited the stands have ever been in my time there.

3 - Montreal Double OT Thriller
The emotional highs and lows of Rider football can take a toll on a person’s heart. Perhaps no game has taken more years off my life than the home opener in 2010. It was a Grey Cup rematch and the first step in the Riders’ quest to avenge one of the most infamous Grey Cup loses ever.

It was classic Canadian football. Wide open, high scoring, back and forth. It ended up going into overtime where of all the penalties in the rule book we managed to take a Too Many Men on the Field flag. That was followed by SJ Green making one of the most ridiculous and clutch catches I have ever seen. Despite all that Durant and the Riders kept fighting and sealed the victory with a TD pass to Weston Dressler. I doubt we will see a game that tops that one (for the sake of my heart I hope we don’t)

2 - Thunderbowl
There are few games that you can describe in just one word and everyone knows what you mean. But mention the term "Thunderbowl" anywhere in Saskatchewan and people know exactly what you mean. The miracle comeback, the crazy lightning storm, the power outage, the extended delay, the small but determined group of fans than withstood it all and cheered as loud as crowds 20 times their size and the Riders won the game in dramatic fashion. The game was so unique that I doubt the experience will ever be replicated.

1 – Labour Day Classic 2007
If you were to poll Rider Nation on their top regular season play in recent memory I bet the vast majority would say Kerry Joseph’s game winning QB draw in the ’07 LDC. It was a defining play in the magical 2007 season. We went toe to toe with a very good Winnipeg team and late in the game were driving for what we hoped would be the go ahead field goal. Instead Kerry Joseph delivered a TD run that will forever be etched in Rider lore and our memories. I still get goosebumps watching the replay.


Govind said...

Allow me to help on #5. No surprise since I am a big Szarka fan. It was in the fall of 2004, part of that win streak we went on to get back in the race. It was a comeback win, after the Als raced out to a huge first quarter lead.

Unknown said...

Great memories!! And, I was there for all of them!! :-) We were sitting right down in front for the Morgan block!! Crazy stuff and we were practically right in the action (we were that close), sitting in a snow bank (if I remember correctly!! lol).

Rider Prophet said...

Gov - should have known you'd be able to fill in my blanks. I still get excited just thinking about that play

Chris - "sitting in a snow bank" is a comment that would raise questions anywhere but Saskatchewan