The Calgary Stampeders head to the Grey Cup the heavy favourite after thumping the B.C. Lions 42-15 in Sunday’s West Division final.
The Stampeders (15-2-1) and Lions (12-6) posted the CFL’s best regular-season records, but Calgary controlled Sunday’s game from the opening kickoff.
The Stamps meet the Ottawa Redblacks (8-9) in the championship game Sunday in Toronto. The Redblacks downed the visiting Edmonton Eskimos 35-23 in a snowy East final.
It’s the second trip to the Grey Cup in three years for the Stampeders after winning it in 2014.
Calgary hadn’t played a game in three weeks and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell hadn’t thrown a game ball in almost four.
But the host team silenced speculation about rust by scoring on their opening drive and racing to a 32-0 lead at halftime.
Mitchell threw touchdown passes to Marquay McDaniel, DaVaris Daniels and Lemar Durant, plus a two-point convert throw to Kamar Jorden.
The West Division’s nominee for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player completed 21-of-28 passes for 365 yards and was intercepted once.
Durant also ran for a touchdown while defensive back Jamar Wall scored off an interception. Rene Paredes kicked a pair of field goals in front of an announced 32,115 at McMahon Stadium.
Ground attack shut down
Calgary’s defence held the top-rushing team in the league to 82 yards on the ground.
B.C.’s Emmanuel Arceneaux and Chris Rainey caught touchdown passes from Lions quarterbacks Travis Lulay and Jonathon Jennings respectively.
Lulay replaced Jennings to start the second half, but Jennings was back in before the end of the third quarter. B.C.’s starter completed 15-of-22 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown. Lulay was 6-for-9 for 86 yards.
Jennings connected with Rainey on a 13-yard pass in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late for the Lions.
Durant scored his second touchdown of the game on a five-yard catch from Mitchell. Paredes was good from 34 yards for his second field goal of the game.
Calgary’s offence cooled in the third when they turned the ball over and B.C.’s Anthony Gaitor intercepted a Mitchell pass intended for Jorden in the end zone.
But Stampeder linebacker Glenn Love extinguished B.C.’s spark by picking off Lulay throwing to Bryan Burnham in the end zone.
Lulay lobbed a four-yard toss to Arceneaux for B.C.’s first touchdown of the game at 5:17. They were stopped on a two-point convert attempt, although the Lions collected a single point on Richie Leone’s 81-yard punt.
Wall intercepted a Jennings pass intended for Marco Ianuzzi and ran 32 yards back to score with 18 seconds left in the first half.
A Stampeder touchdown late in the half was overturned on a successful challenge by Lions head coach Wally Buono. Calgary settled for a 26-yard field goal from Paredes.
Mitchell and Daniels combined on a 76-yard catch and run for to score at 9:49 of the second quarter.
Daniels, a finalist for the CFL’s rookie award, blew by B.C. defensive back Brandon Stewart into open territory for the catch.
Starting from their own-seven yard line, Mitchell marched the Stampeder offence downfield and connected with McDaniel on a 33-yard scoring play at 4:50.
The Lions threatened late in the first quarter, but a Ja’Gared Davis tackle on Chris Rainey for a six-yard loss forced the visitors to punt.
Durant capped a five-play, 57-yard drive running wide left into the end zone on a three-yard scamper to start the game.
Arcenaux and Chris Rainey had a touchdown catches for the Lions.