Sunday, November 17, 2013

Riders win Western Final to head to home turf Grey Cup

The Saskatchewan Roughriders turned seven Calgary turnovers into 18 points Sunday, en route to a 35-13 win over the Stampeders in the Western Final at Calgary's McMahon Stadium, earning a berth in next Sunday's 101st Grey Cup game against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, to be played at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

Calgary opened with the ball but, after one first down, turned the ball over around centre field, as Jermaine McElveen came up with an interception. The Riders however, did nothing offensively, going 2 and out quickly. A big 48 yard punt return by Brandon Smith half way through the opening quarter set the Stamps up with a first down at the Saskatchewan 8. Calgary, however, would have to settle for just three points on a 12 yard Rene Paredes field goal, giving them a 3-0 lead with 6:43 to play in the opening quarter. On the ensuing possession, their third of the game, the Riders ripped off yardage in big chunks, ending the 8 play, 75 yard drive with a 3 yard touchdown pass from Darian Durant to Rob Bagg. Chris Milo converted with 2:40 to go in the first, taking a 7-3 lead.The Stampeders responded on their next possession with a 41 yard field goal with 15 seconds left by Paredes, cutting the Saskatchewan lead to 7-6.

Opening up the second quarter much like they ended the first, the Riders ripped off yardage in large doses, culminating in a 7 yard touchdown pass from Durant to Chris Getzlaf, which capped a 12 play, 75 yard drive. Milo converted with 8:40 to play in the half, pushing the Saskatchewan lead to 14-6. After a Terrell Maze fumble recovery on Calgary's next possession, the lead would grow to 15-6, on a 69 yard Ricky Schmitt punt single with 4:21 left in the half. After another takeaway by the Riders on a long Stampeder pass play, the Green-and-White would strike again, the time on a 37 yard pass from Durant to Weston Dressler, waiting in the front right corner of the end zone. Milo kicked the convert and with 2:43 to go in the second quarter, the Saskatchewan lead was 16, at 22-6. After a Maze interception, the Riders' fourth takeaway in the opening half, Scott McHenry fumbled the ball away at the goal line on the half's final play, leaving the Saskatchewan lead at 22-6, at two-quarter time.

On their second possession of the second half, Calgary's Drew Tate, on in relief of starter Kevin Glenn, found a wide open Joe West down the left sideline for a 46 yard major. Paredes converted and with 5:37 gone in the third, the Rider lead was down to 9, at 22-13. Saskatchewan responded on the next possession by driving into field goal position, but Milo's 20 yarder was blocked, leaving the score at 22-13 Riders.

Saskatchewan opened up the fourth quarter with the ball and put together an impressive drive on the ground, with Kory Sheets and Jock Sanders combining for several big gains. The drive culminated with a 12 yard Milo field goal, giving the Roughriders a 25-13 lead. Late in regulation, the Stamps turned it over for the sixth time, bobbling the ball away on a punt, which was knocked out of bounds by Paul Woldu, giving Saskatchewan possession. The Riders turned it into 3 points, on a 39 yard field goal by Milo with 2:59 to play, for  a 28-13 lead. After stopping Calgary again, Saskatchewan would put the game away with a 1 yard dive over the top by Sheets for a major, at the end of a 4 play, 42 yard drive. Milo's convert, with 1:12 to play, giving the Riders a 35-13 lead. The Stamps had one more possession but couldn't mount a threat as the clock ran out on an impressive 35-13 Saskatchewan win. About clinching a spot in the Grey Cup, Head Coach Corey Chamblin said "It's an awesome feeling. We went through some ups and downs this year, but I can tell you that the guys in that locker room, you know we didn't waver to the point we thought it was over and my coaches, none of us did that. You know, we're right where we need to be."

For the Roughriders, Darian Durant was 24-of-30 passing for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns. Kory Sheets ran 28 times for 177 yards and a major, Weston Dressler caught 5 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, Chris Getzlaf and Rob Bagg also caught touchdown passes. Chris Milo had 2 field goals and 4 converts, Ricky Schmitt punted 7 times for a 36.1 yard average and a single. Diamond Ferri led the defence with 2 tackles and 4 special teams tackles, while Terrell Maze had an interception and a fumble recovery. For Calgary, Kevin Glenn was 7-of-13 passing for 185 yards and 2 interceptions, Drew Tate was 5-of 11 passing for 90 yards and a touchdown and Bo Levi Mitchell was 1-of-3 passing for 6 yards. Jon Cornish rushed 9 times for 67 yards, Joe West caught 3 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Rene Paredes kicked 2 field goals and 1 convert, Rob Maver punted 5 times for a 46.2 yard average and Deron Mayo led the defence with 14 tackles.

Saskatchewan won the stats battle, gaining 31 first downs to 10, outrushing the Stamps 256 to 89 and outgained them, 536 to 370. Calgary turned the ball over 7 times to the Riders' 1.

Up next for Saskatchewan, is the 101st Grey Cup next Sunday, November 24th at Mosaic Stadium in Regina against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who won the Eastern Final earlier today, 36-24 at Toronto over the Argonauts. Game time on 620CKRM, the Rider Radio Network, TSN and NBCSN is 6:30pm EST.

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