REGINA, Canada // Kory Sheets ran for a record 197 yards and two touchdowns to leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 Sunday night in the Canadian Football League’s 101st Grey Cup championship game.
Sheets, who briefly played for the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers, broke the Canadian Football League championship game rushing mark of 169 yards set in 1956 by Edmonton’s Johnny Bright.
Sheets was especially impressive in the first half. The former Purdue star ran for 128 yards and a TD in leading Saskatchewan to a 31-6 advantage, and was picked as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“The one thing that led us to a dominant performance was that the fans were unreal,” Roughriders coach Corey Chamblin said. “It was unreal. From pregame warmup I knew it was going to be tough for those guys. I looked at them and said ‘I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.’ I mean, it was ridiculous. The whole thing was green.”
“I said it before the game started, this is not a neutral crowd,” he said. “The fans are going to be in here knocking and rocking and they proved it.”
Darian Durant threw three touchdown passes as Saskatchewan won their fourth Grey Cup and first since 2007. Geroy Simon caught two of the TD tosses.
Saskatchewan’s Chris Getzlaf was chosen as the game’s top Canadian. His brother, NHL star Ryan, is captain of the Anaheim Ducks.
Quarterback Henry Burris, who rallied Hamilton from a 24-10 deficit to beat Toronto 36-24 in the East final, ran for an 18-yard TD that helped the Tiger-Cats pull within 31-16. Sheets ran 5 yards for a score with just over five minutes remaining to keep Saskatchewan in control.
“Everything, the pass, the run, protection was great, the defence was great,” Sheets said. “Special teams was great. It was just our night.”
Hamilton were trying to win the CFL title for the first time since 1999, but quickly fell behind
Sheets and Jock Sanders ran for TDs before Durant, a former North Carolina standout, hit Simon on a 42-yard scoring strike with 1:46 left in the second quarter. Saskatchewan set a Grey Cup record for most first-half points despite three fumbles by Durant.
Actor Tom Hanks and comedian Martin Short were in the crowd on a chilly day with brisk winds.
It was a disappointing end for Hamilton. Burris, Andy Fantuz and coach Kent Austin were all former Riders looking to lead Hamilton to their first Grey Cup win since 1999.
“We didn’t make enough plays, period,” Austin said. “We played a better football team today. They were just better than we were. They were more physical, they were stronger. We didn’t make near as many plays as we could have, missed too many throws, dropped too many balls on offence which killed a lot of our drives. They converted a lot of second downs, especially in the first half. We just dug too deep of a hole.”