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Riders beat Stampeders to earn Grey Cup rematch with Als

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The Canadian Press
11/21/2010 10:11:23 PM
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CALGARY -- The Saskatchewan Roughriders know they'll be constantly reminded of last year's Grey Cup heartbreak over the next few days, but they're happy to be in a position to talk about it.

The Roughriders upset the Calgary Stampeders 20-16 in a frigid West final Sunday at McMahon Stadium. They'll meet the Montreal Alouettes in next Sunday's Grey Cup game in Edmonton.

The Als earned a third straight trip to the Cup with a 48-17 win over the Toronto Argonauts in the East final Sunday.

Saskatchewan is going back to the CFL championship game to try and exorcise the ghosts of last year's debacle.

Leading 27-25 in the final minute in Calgary, the Roughriders began celebrating a title when Alouettes kicker Damon Duval missed a 43-yard field goal attempt with no time remaining.

But Saskatchewan was called for too many men on the field on that kick and Duval made good on his second chance from 33 yards for the 28-27 victory.

"The way last year's Grey Cup ended, the script couldn't have been written any better," Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant said. "It's always been in the back of our minds. We know to getting back to the Grey Cup would be tough and it was. There were a lot of slumps, up and downs, and we're looking forward to the rematch."

Coach Ken Miller knows he'll be forced to revisit last year's disappointment when his 'Riders arrive in Edmonton mid-week. He was already formulating his answer after Sunday's win.

"I kind of have a pat answer that I've been using for a year," he said. "I may have to put a little different spin on it this time. I'll have to (work on it)."

While they know they'll be reminded of that game soon enough, the Roughriders were celebrating their upset over a club that posted the CFL's best record this season of 13-5.

Chris Getzlaf, Cary Koch and Wes Cates scored touchdowns for the visitors, who finished second to the Stamps in the West with a 10-8 record. It was Saskatchewan's fourth playoff win over Calgary in the last five years.

Arjei Franklin scored Calgary's lone TD with Rob Maver kicking two field goals and Burke Dales adding three single points.

"They just made plays," said Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris. "We had some breakdowns on our side, but they just made plays. We didn't make the plays we're used to making.

"We just didn't get it done."

Light snow falling and a windchill of minus-24 C at kickoff greeted an announced sellout crowd of 35,260 at McMahon. A light dusting of snow on the turf made footing for players treacherous, particularly for the kick returners.

Conditions further deteriorated during the game as the temperature nosedived and snow began falling again in the third quarter, which kept the West final a low-scoring affair.

"It was very cold, toes were frozen, hands were frozen," said Durant. "But when you have a Grey Cup at stake, you have to put those things aside and we came out on top."

Calgary had the best offence in the CFL this season but didn't get on track Sunday. Burris completed 19 of 28 passes for 225 yards. He threw one touchdown and one interception.

The Stamps didn't help themselves with 92 yards in penalties to Saskatchewan's 15. Calgary managed to get decent field position from their returners despite the conditions, but didn't capitalize on it.

Durant didn't have strong numbers going 20-for-36, but he threw one more touchdown pass than Burris and was also intercepted once.

With Calgary cornerback Brandon Browner shadowing CFL leading receiver Andy Fantuz, Durant made Getzlaf a favourite target. The Regina native led all receivers with eight catches for 109 yards.

"We were talking about a mindset, a mindset of mental toughness and physical dominance and I think we came through in both areas," Miller said.

The West final had a wild finish. Saskatchewan returner Ryan Grice-Mullen fumbled a punt with less than three minutes to go. The ball was pushed into the Roughriders end zone on the ensuing free-for-all involving players from both sides.

Calgary safety Wes Lysack almost got his hands on the ball for a go-head touchdown, but Saskatchewan linebacker Jerrell Freeman ended up falling on the ball to preserve the win.

"I just saw it on the ground and went and got it," Freeman said. "Just like we were saying all week 'what are you willing to do to win the game?' One thing you've got to do is finish plays."

In a controversial call, Calgary receiver Romby Bryant was slapped with a 10-yard penalty for objectionable conduct late in the fourth quarter. He'd flexed his muscles after a 36-yard catch from Burris. The penalty seemed to sap Calgary's momentum on that particular drive and the Stamps ended up punting.

Miller won a pivotal challenge in the third quarter on what was initially called a Cates fumble and Calgary recovery. Upon review, officials ruled Cates had a knee down before he lost the ball. Cates ended up finishing that same drive with a four-yard run for a touchdown that put the visitors up 20-15.

"When the players told me we had to challenge, I threw the challenge flag," Miller said. "When my players tell me they know, then I'm going to make that challenge."

Calgary led 11-0 after the opening quarter, but Saskatchewan wrested momentum back in the second with a pair of touchdowns to lead 14-11 at halftime.

Safety James Patrick, who led the league in interceptions this season with nine, picked off Burris's intended pass to Bryant and ran it 50 yards back to the 12 with just over a minute left in the first half. Koch hauled in Durant's pass and got one foot in the end zone for a TD with nine seconds left.

Getzlaf capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive at 12:53 on a six-yard passing play from Durant.

A Dales single and Maver's second field goal of the game gave the hosts a temporary 15-14 lead early in the third quarter before Cates gave the visitors the lead again.



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