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Canadian Bowl Classics

12/10/2020, 9:30am PST
By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)

The only national championship that needed overtime

The only Canadian Bowl that needed overtime was the 1997 game in Kelowna when the Regina Rams beat the Okanagan Sun 23-20 in an absolute classic.

Coming into the game the Rams were a perennial powerhouse winning three Canadian Bowl titles in four seasons; winning in 1993, 1994 and 1995.  The Sun meanwhile were a powerhouse in the BC Conference in the 90’s and had faced the Rams in the national semi-final game in 1995 and lost 11-8.

The 1997 Canadian Bowl was played in front of 6200 screaming fans at the Apple Bowl and featured two very talented offensive players in Jason Clermont of the Rams and running back Terrance Huston of the Sun and both played a major factor during this game.

After a scoreless first quarter the Rams piled on 17 points in the second quarter and led 17-3 at the half.  The score stayed that way entering the fourth quarter when the Sun offensive finally came alive.  They scored 14 points in the final frame to tie the game and force overtime.

Nothing was settled in the first overtime session, so the teams who, were tired and banged up were forced to play a second session.  The Sun worked the ball all the way down to the three yard line but couldn’t punch it in with 1:20 left on the clock.  Instead they had to settle for a Derek Korstrom 10 yard field goal to give them the lead for the first time in the game.  Overtime in the CJFL is not sudden death.

The Rams then had 75 seconds on the clock to get into field goal range themselves to potentially tie it starting at their own 35 yard line.  After a couple of pass completions the Rams were down to the Sun 45 yard line.   Quarterback Chad Ehman who had a very strong game then threw two incompletions to set up third down and 10 with 28 seconds to go.    Instead of trying a 50+ yard field goal the Rams went for it and it paid off.  Ehman found Clermont who was wide open on a dump pass, then scampered 42 yards all the way down to the Sun three yard line.  On the very next play Clermont punched it into the end zone for the game winning score and their fourth national championship in five seasons.

Offensively Ehman finished with 17 completions for 231 yards finding Clermont three times for 70 yards.  The future CFLer also rushed five times for 13 yards including the three yard game winning touchdown.   Speaking of rushing, running back Ikenna Njoka was outstanding with 19 carries for 115 yards and a five-yard touchdown run.

On the other side of the field the Sun did most of their damage on the ground behind Ron Arnold.  He was punishing with 25 carries for 244 yards and a 30 touchdown sprint.   Huston was held to 48 yards on the ground but he returned seven punts for 125 yards.

These two teams showed their dominance the following season meeting again in the 1998 Canadian Bowl, however this time in Regina with the Rams winning 36-13.

The 1997 game remains the only Canadian Bowl to be decided in overtime.  Its remains a CJFL Canadian Bowl Classic that you can relive below.

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