Calgary Stampeders hang on to edge Ticats in 102nd Grey Cup, with Bo Levi Mitchell starring

Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell did a great job of evading pressure Sunday, doing enough to lead the Stamps to a win. (Reuters.)
Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell did a great job of evading pressure Sunday, doing enough to lead the Stamps to a win. (Reuters.)

It went right to the wire, but in the end, the Calgary Stampeders did enough to get by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 102nd Grey Cup Sunday night, winning 20-16. Calgary got off to a great start, putting together a 17-7 lead by the half and a 20-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Tiger-Cats managed to pull off a late rally, getting within one touchdown and then driving for the equalizer late. However, a clipping call nullified a late return touchdown from Brandon Banks, and then the Stampeders' defence did enough to win.

This game was all Stampeders early on, with quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell brilliantly evading pressure and finding receiver after receiver, orchestrating long drives that set up two first-half touchdown plunges by Drew Tate. Mitchell was the real star of this one, certainly on the offensive side, doing enough to keep the Calgary drives alive and lead them to victory. Hamilton was able to key on the Stampeders' run game and largely contain Jon Cornish, but that opened up space for Mitchell. The Ticats were able to get rushers to him, but he skillfully used his mobility to get out of the way and find receivers downfield. 

The Calgary defence was also crucial all night long. They brought plenty of pressure on Zach Collaros, and were able to control Nic Grigsby in the ground game. They did give up some big chunks of yardage, but executed defensive coordinator Rich Stubler's "bend-but-don't-break" mentality very well, forcing the Tiger-Cats to settle for a lot of field goals in close. 

In the fourth quarter, though, the Ticats came alive. Collaros started doing a better job of evading the pressure, and receivers such as Andy Fantuz and Sam Giguere began to step up in major ways. Calgary's defence was able to make stands in the red zone, though, and that proved enough, especially on a late one inside three minutes. The Hamilton defence was able to get a stop and get the ball back with less than one minute, and Brandon Banks showed off his explosiveness, taking the ball all the way to the house. That was nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty on Taylor Reed, though, meaning that Hamilton's offence would have to get it done themselves.

In the end, the Ticats' offence simply wasn't up to that task, and the Stampeders' defence was. With 98 yards to drive in less than a minute, Hamilton's offence proved unable to get it done; a three-man rush got to Collaros on first down, resulting in a sack and a second-and-19 situation near their own end zone. Collaros hit Andy Fantuz for a first down with 24 seconds left and then hit Fantuz again, but that set up a final Hail Mary with seven seconds left that didn't work out thanks to the Calgary rush getting home again. The Stampeders' defence did its job of bending but not breaking once again, giving Calgary a deserved Grey Cup win.

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