Quarterback Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan Roughriders face the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the 101st Grey Cup

Grey Cup: Saskatchewan, Kory Sheets run wild over helpless Hamilton Tiger Cats

Sheets had a record 192 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and former B.C. Lion Geroy Simon caught two TDs for the champion Roughriders.

  • Nov. 24, 2013 2:00 p.m.

 

It wasn’t close. It wasn’t supposed to be.

A simple glance at the pre-match facts gave you the quite obvious assumption that Saskatchewan could ride roughshod over the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Sunday’s Grey Cup. The Riders’ quarterback, Darian Durant, has been better than Henry Burris all season, even though Burris’s 4,925 yards (in a pass-happy Hamilton offence) led the nation. Kory Sheets is the most dynamic runner in the Canadian Football League – his 1,598 yards were second to only Calgary’s Jon Cornish, and nearly double the 798 put up from the Cats’ C.J. Gable. Receiving-wise, Saskatchewan’s Chris Getzlaf, Weston Dressler, and Taj Smith all caught for over 1,000 yards in 2013, more than anyone on Hamilton’s roster – including former Rider Andy Fantuz – despite the league-leading passing yards delivered from the arm of Hank Burris.

You knew, if Hamilton was to have any chance, they’d need some luck, and that was all on display on Sunday in Regina. The Roughriders did, in fact, run downhill and all over Ontario’s finest, leaving the black and yellow all black and blue at the end of a 45-23 whupping.

(*PHOTOS of the 101st Grey Cup from Regina, Sask. have been embedded from the Saskatchewan Roughriders Facebook page. Courtesy to CFL photographers.)

Not that Hamilton didn’t have a chance or two to change their fate. The Tiger Cats were slowly building toward an exciting crescendo with 10 straight points to start the second half, and they could have made it 17. Burris threw a couple late interceptions that sealed Hamilton’s fate, and the Cats fell victim to a very fortunate fumble from Darian Durant in the first half, when the ball shot loose to an open teammate in Kory Sheets, who added the play to his record-setting tally.

But Sheets was the difference, with all due respect to former B.C. Lion Geroy Simon’s two touchdowns (seriously, congratulations to Superman) or any of Durant’s wobbly but successful passes. (Speaking of Durant, have you ever seen a quarterback so successful at throwing wounded ducks?)

Sheets set a new Grey Cup record in the 101st Grey Cup, with 197 well deserved rushing yards and two scores despite having a trample all over a frozen tundra. Sheets, whose white shoes and white slacks pop and flick with power unlike any other CFL rusher, was unstoppable when he needed to be. It’s why he also won the game’s Most Outstanding Player.

(Receiver Chris Getzlaf – brother of the NHL’s Ryan Getzlaf – won the Cup’s Most Outstanding Canadian.)

Hamilton’s players, by contrast, all moulded into one team defined by images of Henry Burris’s frosted breath and head coach Kent Austin’s disappointed face. (I never remember seeing Gable or Fantuz when I thought I would, as TSN instead focused on the sacked and sideline shots of those two Tiger Cats leaders.)

Not that The Sports Network needed to show anyone else. Gable got the ball only five times and turned it into 21 yards. Fantuz has six catches for 60 yards (but no scores) and Bakari Grant led the way with 72 yards, most of it coming on a 48-yard completion in the third quarter, on a drive that ended with a field goal and only a field goal.

Burris didn’t throw for a touchdown and no one caught one, either.

Meanwhile, Rider Nation got to celebrate three TDs – two to Simon, as mentioned, and one to Weston Dressler on a fourth-quarter score that turned it from a first-half win to a romp. The Riders had three rushing touchdowns, too, aided by Sheets’s double and Jock Sanders single strike.

It all added up to a perfect Sunday for Saskatchewan – the province that not only hosted the 101st Grey Cup, but the province that supports the league unlike any other in Canada.

It also added up to a perfect Sunday for Canadian sports, even if the Broncos were playing the Patriots at the same time. As reported by Yahoo! Sports earlier in the week, the CFL’s divisional championships were the most-watched sporting events in the country last weekend, beating Hockey Night in Canada and any NFL game on the slate.

The West final between Saskatchewan and Calgary averaged 1.9 million viewers and peaked at 2.7 million. The East final between Toronto and Hamilton averaged 1.7 million and hit 3.1 million.

Compare that to last week’s Sunday Night Football showdown between Kansas City and Denver, which topped out at 579,000 on TSN.

It appears the Canadian Football League has finally become the Canadian Football League and, tonight, the country’s heartland took back its trophy.

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