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REGINA — It’s party time in Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders won a once-in-a-lifetime Grey Cup on their home field, thanks to a running back with a record-setting performance.
Kory Sheets rushed for 197 yards, a Grey Cup record. He did it on 20 carries, an incredible 9.8 yards per carry average. He also scored two touchdowns in the Riders’ convincing 45-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 101st Grey Cup.
The Roughriders became the third consecutive team to win the Grey Cup in their home stadium, but because this was a ‘Celebration in Rider Nation’ it took on extra importance. The entire city was a sea of green all week long and it was primed for a party. The Riders didn’t have a choice. They had to win for the province.
And they did it in convincing fashion. The Ticats scored first on a field goal, but were never close after that.
Sheets was a unanimous choice for the game’s MVP award. Receiver Chris Getzlaf was named top Canadian player after hauling in three catches for 78 yards
Sheets was a one-man wrecking crew on route to breaking Johnny Bright’s rushing record set in 1956. He had 128 yards and a touchdown at the half as the Riders opened a 31-6 lead – the second largest halftime lead in Grey Cup history and the most points ever scored in the first half.
The Riders got on the board in the first quarter thanks to Geroy Simon’s first career Grey Cup touchdown. The CFL’s all-time receiving yards leader hauled in a 15-yard catch to give the Riders a 7-3 lead.
The Ticats had no answer for Sheets. Sheets had a big 15-yard gain, in the second quarter, down to the Hamilton three-yard line, then gave way to Jock Sanders who rushed in for a touchdown.
The Tiger-Cats suffered through several momentum swings. On their next drive after the scoring play, the Ticats fumbled away a bad shotgun snap and allowed Saskatchewan’s Alex Hall recover. That set the Riders up for a first-and-goal from the 5.
But the Roughriders gave the ball right back. Durant was tackled and fumbled but was ruled down by contact. Hamilton challenged, won and got the ball back – but went two and out. On the ensuing drive the Riders scored again on a Sheets one-yard run.
After Hamilton kicked a field goal, Sheets set up another Simon touchdown with runs of 18 and 15 yards.
Simon became the first Roughrider in history with two touchdowns in a Grey Cup game. Then Sheets equaled his effort in the fourth quarter when he scored on a four-yard run. Simon finished the game with three catches for 67 yards. Western Dressler had five catches for 87 yards and a late touchdown.
Abbotsford, B.C., band Hedley performed the halftime show for the 44,710 in attendance at Mosaic Stadium.
For the Tiger-Cats, it's a disappointing ending to an otherwise solid season. They finished the regular season 10-8 before going on a surprising postseason run. That run came up short in front of a hostile crowd.