VANCOUVER:- The Calgary Stampeders won their seventh Grey Cup championship Sunday by surviving a furious second-half Hamilton Tiger-Cats rally for a nail-biting 20-16 victory.
The Stampeders talked all week about fulfilling their Canadian Football League destiny and they backed it up in front of a crowd of 52,056 at B.C. Place stadium in Vancouver by winning the 102nd Grey Cup.
“We had a very good week of preparation,” Calgary coach John Hufnagel said after the Stampeders claimed their first championship since 2008. “Hamilton had a lot of moxie (character) to get back into the game.”
Indeed, in a dramatic finish to Canada’s national gridiron championship, Hamilton appeared to have successfully capped one of the wildest fourth-quarter rallies in Grey Cup history.
But Brandon Banks’ 80-yard punt return into the end zone with less than a minute to go in regulation ended up being called back because of a clipping penalty. Had the touchdown counted it would have given the Tiger-Cats a two-point lead with just 35 seconds to go.
It marked the second straight Grey Cup loss for the Ticats, who were beaten by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in last season’s final.
“We got a good young football team,” said Hamilton coach Kent Austin. “It is not always going to go our way. That’s how it is sometimes.”
Drew Tate had a pair of rushing touchdowns and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was named the game’s most outstanding player as he completed 25-of-34 passes for 334 yards for the Stampeders.
Eric Rogers had 108 yards receiving in the win but the league’s rushing leader Joe Cornish managed just 25 yards on the ground.
The Tiger-Cats trailed 17-0 in the second quarter and by 13 heading into the fourth before quarterback Zach Collaros led a furious late rally.
Kicker Justin Medlock booted two field goals in the fourth to get Hamilton to within 20-13 with 5:35 left. Medlock added another field goal to cut the Stamps’ lead to just four.
The Tiger-Cats then forced a punt and Banks scooped up a rolling ball and took off down the sideline for a touchdown, but it was nullified because of the penalty.
“We had other opportunities to win,” said Austin. “Until I see the play I am not going to comment further.”