(Reuters) - Bo Levi Mitchell did the heavy-lifting but Drew Tate got the glory scoring two touchdowns as the Calgary Stampeders tamed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 20-16 to hoist the 102nd Grey Cup and be crowned Canadian Football League champions on Sunday.
Mitchell was named the most valuable player, completing 25 passes for 334 yards, though his backup Tate finished a pair of drives by scoring on quarterback sneaks from the one-yard line.
The victory erased the disappointment of a loss to the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup final two years ago, but it was more heartbreak for Hamilton, who also lost the final last year and looked to have stolen a dramatic victory at the death.
Trailing 20-16 with 30 seconds to play diminutive Brandon Banks electrified the crowd when he returned a punt for an apparent touchdown only for it to be called back for an illegal block leaving the Hamilton bench stunned and Banks in tears.
“I saw that flag come out real early so I knew,” said Mitchell. “You know you got to stop those things, that almost lost us the Grey Cup.”
The Stampeders, the CFL’s top team during the regular season with a mark of 15-3, drew first blood with Tate sliding into the end zone from one yard to cap a nine play, 55-yard drive to bring Calgary supporters among the 55,000 crowd at BC Place to their feet.
Helped by a pass interference penalty in the end zone, the Stampeders pushed their lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter when Tate scampered over from the one for his second touchdown.
”We put all this hard work in, this team has worked hard, and the coaching staff has worked tirelessly and we finally got it done, said the 24-year-old Mitchell.
“I have the best team in the entire world.”
An 11-yard Rene Paredes field goal boosted Calgary’s lead before Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros hit Banks on a 45-yard touchdown pass to cut the Stampeders’ advantage to 17-7 at halftime.
Paredes added a 20-yard field goal for Calgary in the third before Hamilton’s Justin Medlock kicked three field goals in the fourth to cut the deficit to 20-16 and set the stage for Banks dramatic run back.
”I let the city down,“ said Hamilton’s Taylor Reed, who was called for the illegal block. ”I let this team down.
“We let this one get away from us.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury