Rogers rolls as Calgary Stampeders advance to 3rd straight Grey Cup

CALGARY — It seems good things come in threes for the Calgary Stampeders.

Eric Rogers scored his third touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, leading the horses to a 22-14 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Western Final Sunday night at McMahon Stadium.

Calgary will take on the Ottawa REDBLACKS in the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw on Nov. 25 in Edmonton, marking Calgary’s third straight trip to the championship game and the fourth in five years.

The Stamps trailed until late in the second quarter, when Mitchell capped off a 15-play drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock, giving them their first lead of the game. Rogers would add two more, capping off an incredible night that saw him six passes for 61 yards and three majors.

While the Bombers chipped away at an eight-point deficit throughout the game, Rogers’ third touchdown with 3:30 remaining put the game out of reach, extending Calgary’s lead to double-digits to the delight of 29,268 fans on a mild evening at McMahon.

Mitchell finished with 214 yards and the trio of touchdowns on 17-of-31 passing for Calgary, while running back Don Jackson rushed for 83 yards in the win. But it was the defence making the difference, holding Matt Nichols to just 156 passing yards on 15-of-32 passing while allowing just 13 first downs and 245 net yards in the game.

Ja’Gared Davis had two of three sacks for the Stamps, with Alex Singleton adding a game-high eight tackles to keep the Bombers out of the end zone the entirety of the game. Singleton also recovered the game-clinching onside kick with 37 seconds remaining.

Andrew Harris rushed for 71 yards in a losing effort for Winnipeg, adding four catches for nine yards, while Darvin Adams added a team-high 64 yards on five catches.

Justin Medlock was perfect on all four of his field goal attempts, including a playoff record 57-yarder in the first quarter.

The Bombers took advantage of the wind at their back and an early edge in field position in the first quarter, scoring on a 57-yard no-doubt field goal from Medlock to lead 3-0.

Calgary came out with an aggressive game plan on offence, with four of Mitchell’s first five passing attempts traveling 30-plus yards in the air. But the Bombers’ defence was up to the task, forcing the Stamps to punt on two of their opening three possessions, the other resulting in a missed field goal from Rene Paredes from 45 yards out.

Medlock’s second field goal of the quarter gave Winnipeg a 6-0 lead through the opening 15 minutes. The Bombers were 9-4 this season when leading after the first quarter.

With Winnipeg holding the early edge in time of possession and the Stamps pinned in their own end, the Calgary offence started to show signs of life. It started with some tough running by Jackson, who set up a pair of first downs to get the drive started.

After completions to Lemar Durant and Chris Matthews, the Stamps appeared to have their first points when Mitchell found speedy Romar Morris wide open behind the defender on a wheel route. However, Matthews was called for offensive pass interference on a pick, taking any points off the board and putting the Stamps in a first-and-20 hole.

In what would eventually become a defining drive in the game, Mitchell persevered, finding Richard Sindanand Matthews for back-to-back completions to keep the sticks moving in their favour.

A couple of plays later, Mitchell avoided pressure off the edge and then found Markeith Ambles for 10 more, setting up an eventual 12-yard touchdown pass to Rogers on second down. Mitchell was 4-for-4 for 35 yards on second down on the drive, while Paredes’ extra point capped off a 15-play, 102-yard drive that took 8:27 off the clock.

Shortly after taking their first lead of the game, the Calgary offence was back on the field once again. This time it was a more direct route to the end zone, with Mitchell hitting Ambles for a first down, then finding Matthews for a 22-yard pickup down to the Winnipeg eight.

On the very next play Mitchell went right back to Rogers, the duo connecting for the second time in the end zone to extend Calgary’s lead to 14-6.

It looked like the Stampeders may have broken the game wide open when Tunde Adeleke took a punt return the distance in the waning moments of the half, only for it to be called back on an illegal block.

Stamps running back Romar Morris left the game and was later carted to the locker-room with what appeared to be a lower body injury. He did not return.

In the second half, with the Bombers’ defence on the field and going against the wind, a possible momentum changer arrived when Jackson had the ball punched loose by defensive back Brandon Alexander. It was recovered by Taylor Loffler, but the Bombers couldn’t take advantage of the turnover, having to punt and try to pin the Stamps deep in their own end.

While the Stamps remained in front through 45 minutes, the field was slowly tilting in Winnipeg’s favour after forcing Calgary to concede a safety, then adding three points on Medlock’s third field goal of the evening to make it 14-11 Calgary.

The Calgary defence continued to be the biggest difference maker, stuffing Harris on a second-and-two to force a punt with 11 minutes remaining in the game.

An 18-yard run by Jackson got the Stamps into Winnipeg territory, while a pass interference penalty kept the chains moving towards the Winnipeg goal line. A 15-yard hookup between Mitchell and Durant atoned for an earlier drop by the Canadian receiver, setting the Stamps up with first-and-goal from the five.

After being sacked on first down, Mitchell had a chance to essentially put the game away on second down. The Stamps’ quarterback went right back to his comfort zone, throwing one up for Rogers, who high-pointed Mitchell’s pass and came down with it, capping off a seven-play, 74-yard drive to make it a 21-11 lead for the Stamps.

Medlock added a 37-yard field goal with 38 seconds left, setting up an eight-point deficit and an attempt at an onside kick for the Bombers. But there would be no miraculous comeback on this night, as Singleton recovered Medlock’s kick, clinching a 22-14 victory and a third straight trip to the Grey Cup.

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