Riders are Grey Cup Champions
It was definitely a “Celebration In Rider Nation” on Sunday night as the Saskatchewan Roughriders dominated from the start and never looked back on their way to a Grey Cup win at home.
The Roughriders rode the legs of running back Kory Sheets – who rushed for a Grey Cup-record 197 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns – to their fourth Grey Cup title in franchise history with a 45-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Stadium.
The win was especially sweet for quarterback Darian Durant, who suffered through defeats in 2009 and 2010 to get to this point.
“When you don’t get it done and you have the most passionate fans, there’s going to be a some naysayers, so I’m just happy and without my teammates this wouldn’t happen,” said Durant from a jubilant Riders’ locker room.
He was enjoying a victory cigar and said he was trying to savour every moment of the taste of victory.
“I’ve coughed a couple times, drank some champagne, I’ve been waiting to do this all year,” said Durant. “Just get the monkey off my back, please!”
The Riders quarterback might not have walked away with Most Outstanding Player for his performance, that went to Sheets, but Durant guided the Green and White to victory in the game. He finished 17-of-24 passing for 245 yards and three touchdowns, and overcame three fumbles in the first half that could have proven costly, but didn’t.
Saskatchewan’s balanced offensive attack and stout defence was too much for the over-matched Tiger-Cats in the game. The Riders had out gained Hamilton 333-to-130 in yards during the first half on their way to a 31-6 lead at the break.
“We came out of the gates strong and really in that second quarter we took off,” said slotback Weston Dressler, who finished with a team-high five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown in the win. “It’s nice to have that lead and that cushion throughout the game and we were able to finish it.”
Hamilton opened the scoring with a 45-yard field goal by Luca Congi, but it was all Riders after that in the first half.
Durant got the team on the board by hitting Geroy Simon in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead. It was also Simon’s first Grey Cup touchdown ever.
The Riders escaped some trouble in the opening quarter with two early fumbles by Durant. One ended up turned into a 41-yard gain by Sheets, which showed the team that luck might be in their favour in the game, but they didn’t need it.
Saskatchewan blew the game wide in the second quarter with Jock Sanders, Sheets and Simon – his second – all scoring touchdowns for a 31-6 lead at halftime.
The Tiger-Cats came out and moved the ball in the third quarter, while the Riders went into an offensive shell in the quarter. Hamilton out gained Saskatchewan 116-26 in the third.
Hamilton was able to cut into the lead with an 18-yard touchdown run by Henry Burris and they made it a two score game just inside the fourth quarter on a 33-yard field goal by Congi.
Sheets brought life back to Mosaic as he took the game over on the ground, turning out 20-yard run after 20-yard run, finally finding the end zone again on a four-yard touchdown to make it 38-16.
Only two plays later, John Chick was hitting Henry Burris for his second sack of the day and popping the ball loose to get the Riders the ball back. Just seconds later, Durant to Dressler sealed the win with a 26-yard touchdown strike.
That’s when the party started as Rider Nation started to sing and dance in the stands, watching as the CFL Championship trophy was carried down the stairs with just a few moments left.
Despite a mountain in front of them, Hamilton continued to press. Burris pushed his team to the limits and found the end zone one last time, making it 45-23. That would be as close as Hamilton would get though, simply running into a wall painted Green and White.
“We knew there were going to be some historical things going on if we won, but man, it’s unbelievable,” said defensive back Dwight Anderson moments after the win in the Riders locker room.
“Offence played amazing, defence played amazing, special teams played amazing, so it makes sense that we pulled off a win like this,” added defensive end Ricky Foley.
It was really a coronation right from the start of the game. The Riders eschewed the player introductions and ran out as a team, really stealing the momentum from the Tiger-Cats before a down was even played.
“We’re a team and none of us thought it was right that just the offence was being introduced,” said offensive guard Brendon LaBatte. “We’ve been battling together all year long and we were going to bring ’em out, bring ’em out, and that’s everybody coming out at once.”
The Riders were rolling from there.
Simon and Sheets became the first Riders to scored multiple touchdowns in a Grey Cup game. Simon put together the game that was expected of him when he signed in the offseason, catching three passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Sheets controlled the game for the Riders along ground and took the Most Outstanding Player award honours for his efforts. Regina’s Chris Getzlaf was named Most Outstanding Canadians after hauling in three passes for 78 yards.
Defensively, the Riders made the Ti-Cats one dimensional by taking away the run. C.J. Gable finished with just six carries for 23 yards. The defence also did a good job of limiting the big plays, forcing Hamilton to settle for short passes.
Burris completed 20-of-43 passes for 272 yards and an interception, which went to Weldon Brown in the third quarter. Andy Fantuz was his top target with seven catches for 76 yards.
“I’m happy for the Riders, I’m happy for a bunch of my former teammates, the whole Rider Nation,” said Fantuz after the game in an expected quiet Hamilton locker room. “It’s disappointing for us, but I’m happy for them.”
There’s nothing left for the Riders to do except celebrate the fourth Grey Cup championship in franchise history and the first to be won on Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium. They will hold a celebration rally at the Saskatchewan Legislature on Tuesday at 11:30am.
via Local News http://www.swiftcurrentonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24307:riders-are-grey-cup-champions&catid=13:local-news&Itemid=355