EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Terry Williams and Bo Levi Mitchell helped the Calgary Stampeders end their Grey Cup misery.
Williams had a Grey Cup-record 97-yard punt return for a touchdown and Calgary beat the Ottawa Redblacks 27-16 on Sunday night after falling short the previous two years in the Canadian Football League title game.
Calgary lost 39-33 in overtime to Ottawa in 2016, and dropping a 27-24 decision to Toronto last year. The Stampeders won their eighth title and first since 2014.
Mitchell — the CFL’s most outstanding player this season after throwing a league-best 35 TD passes — was the game MVP. The former SMU and Eastern Washington star was 24 of 36 passing for 253 yards and two touchdowns, but also had two interceptions.
“I know we talked that (the two previous losses) didn’t mean anything but we couldn’t make the game bigger than it was,” Mitchell said. “We had to understand that this was one game and you can only win one game and win only one Grey Cup. I think the guys who were on those two teams, even on the team last year, the emotions at the 30-second mark kind of hit. It wasn’t about redemption against anybody else or the league … it felt like as an organization we’ve been at the top too much not to finish the job. It feels amazing to get it done for the city of Calgary.”
Williams scored on the punt return just before halftime. The former Kutztown running back nearly fell heading upfield on the slippery Commonwealth Stadium turf, but an Ottawa defender engaged with a blocker slid by, allowing Williams to hit the open field, then run past punter Richie Leone to make it 21-11.
“I thought I was going to bust my butt for a second, but I caught myself, saw an opening and hit it full speed,” Williams said. “It was big, we needed the spark. We were battling all game and needed to make it happen and that we did.”
Stampeders receiver Lemar Durant was selected the outstanding Canadian after making four catches for 30 yards and a TD and adding a 22-yard run.
“It’s huge, it’s like a 100-pound weight lifted off me,” Durant said. “Growing up, all you want to do is be a champion and to have those chances and let them slip out of your hands and think like you might not get a shot at this. There’s been people in this league 10-plus years and never get a chance. To be able to come back and just get that is huge.”
Redblacks quarterback Trevor Harris was 20 of 38 for 288 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
“When it doesn’t go your way you feel like you let everybody down and it hurts man. It hurts,” Harris sad. “It’s dejecting. I know it is a team game, but man, it’s going to be a while before you get over this one.”
Ottawa — in its third Grey Cup in four years — appeared to score on Greg Ellingson’s acrobatic one-handed grab in the fourth quarter but replays showed the ball hit the turf. The Redblacks ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Calgary 7 with just over eight minutes remaining.
After Ottawa turned the ball over on downs again, Calgary’s Jamar Wall and Tre Roberson followed up with interceptions on consecutive Redblacks possessions. Roberson’s pick came with 1:22 to play.