For three quarters and a little more than 12 minutes, it was Kevin Glenn's afternoon to forget, an exercise in frustration, missed opportunities and a pair of interceptions that were going to haunt him for days, maybe longer.
But being a 33-year-old veteran quarterback in the CFL means never worrying about a game until it's over, and with a late fourth-quarter drive capped by a timely touchdown pass, Glenn led the Calgary Stampeders to a 31-30 win over the visiting Edmonton Eskimos.
In a Labour Day clash that started slowly before building to a madcap finish – the Eskimos missed a 48-yard field goal on the last play of the game – Glenn's turnabout performance typified how the Stampeders were able to survive a give-and-take affair.
With a chance to build an early 14-point lead early in the game, Glenn threw an interception and Edmonton converted it into a touchdown. Then in the fourth quarter, Edmonton cornerback Joe Burnett intercepted Glenn and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown that made the score 30-25 for the Eskimos. At that point, many of the 32,102 fans at McMahon Stadium could sense a Calgary setback.
But with 2 minutes 32 seconds on the clock, Glenn engineered a five-play, 51-yard drive that ended with his tossing a seven-yard scoring strike to receiver Larry Taylor. The victory lifted Calgary to a 5-4 record, the same as Edmonton, with the two sides set to play again Friday.
"That's what Labour Day is all about," Glenn said when asked to describe his play, particularly how he reacted after being intercepted twice. "It's part of football. The second one, I wouldn't take it back. The guy [Burnett] came over Johnny Forzani's back and he made a play. The first one kind of got away from me. The biggest thing was everybody believed. When we got the ball again, you could tell in the offensive guys' eyes we were going to get it back."
Calgary coach Jon Hufnagel defended his quarterback's second miscue. "We didn't line up correctly and that caused him to throw the ball later than he wanted to. He kept his composure. … Any time you win, especially a Labour Day Classic, it has to be a positive for that locker room and it is."
The 47th Labour Day meeting between Alberta's CFL rivals see-sawed back and forth with Calgary dominating the third quarter and Edmonton much of the fourth until Glenn's last-minute heroics. Kerry Joseph went the distance at quarterback for the Eskimos, passing for 311 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown toss to Fred Stamps and a 73-yarder to Hugh Charles.
Joseph also got his team into position for a game-winning field goal try by Grant Shaw, only to see the kick go wide and Taylor run it out of the end zone.
"We came up short, that's the biggest disappointment," Joseph said. "We came out at halftime with the wind and they got two touchdowns and we didn't take advantage."
Eskimos coach Kavis Reed went further in dissecting his team's loss.
"I told the players, emotionally and physically, we played a game we could have won. However, mentally, there were some things that cost us," said Reed, whose team took penalties, bobbled a punt snap and surrendered quarterback sacks at inopportune moments.
The Stampeders also scored a minor victory in the anticipated matchup between Calgary running back Jon Cornish and Edmonton linebacker J.C. Sherritt, the league's leading tackler. Cornish had 71 yards rushing and added a touchdown on a 10-yard pass reception, deking Sherritt in the process. Sherritt finished with eight tackles, a quiet game by his standards.
"It was a big win for us," said Cornish, who rocked the house with a crushing block on Edmonton defensive lineman Almondo Sewell in the first quarter. "Coming out of this, we showed we can pass, we can run and our special teams are awesome. The second half of the season should be better for us. We're looking forward to it."
The Stampeders and Eskimos meet Friday at Commonwealth Stadium.