CFL PLAYOFF REPORT – Division Finals: CFL Sunday Shines with Dominant and Nail-Biting Matchups to Decide Grey Cup Bout
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, November 17, 2019
The Grey Cup matchup is set after two incredibly emotional and thrilling Division Finals on Sunday. The East Final turned into a domination while the West Final came down to an egregious error on the final play.
EAST FINAL: HAMILTON TIGER-CATS 36 – EDMONTON ESKIMOS 16 FINAL
This game couldn’t have gone much better for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Dane Evans, Brandon Banks, and Bralon Addison put on a show in front of an overflowing Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, while the defence held Edmonton off the scoresheet in the 1st and 3rd quarters.
The Tabbies were successful in containing both CJ Gable and Greg Ellingson and brought Trevor Harris to the turf three times. Harris still played an outstanding game, throwing at 70.7% completion and 319 yards.
The Ticats set the tone early with an early interception by Richard Leonard that resulted in a Lirim Hajrullahu field goal. Edmonton’s next possession was immediately fumbled by Gable and Hamilton turned that into a 2-yard David Watford touchdown. Hajrullahu booted another field goal to round out an impressive 13-0 1stquarter for the Tiger-Cats.
Harris found DaVaris Daniels in the red zone to get Edmonton back on the board in the 2nd, but Evans immediately responded with two brilliant passes to Banks, including a 47-yard catch-of-the-year candidate for the touchdown. Hamilton carried a 10-point lead into halftime.
Despite giving up an interception in the 3rd, Evans and the Tiger-Cats dominated possession and the defence held fast. The turnover turned into a conceded safety by the Eskimos due to penalties.
Edmonton did score a field goal off a Luke Tasker fumble caused by the former Ticat Don Unumba but, Hamilton came back and Watford punched in a second touchdown that made it a three-possession game. The defence bent but didn’t break and Hamilton closed it out.
Evans finished the game with 386 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Banks and Addison combined for 230 yards and a touchdown. Daniels and Ellingson combined for 182 yards and a touchdown for Edmonton.
WEST FINAL: WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS 20 – SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS 13 FINAL
An explosive 1st quarter set the Blue Bombers up nicely but, must have been pretty nervous at the end. The final three minutes of this game were some of the most intense minutes of football certainly in 2019.
The Winnipeg defence completed a perfect 3rd down goal line stop at to prevent a touchdown and maintain a 7-point lead with two and a half minutes left. Saskatchewan got the ball back and Marcus Thigpen got them in good field position with less than a minute remaining.
At the Winnipeg 24 yard-line, Cody Fajardo appeared to fumble the ball, but it was overturned for an incomplete pass because Fajardo was in a throwing motion. So, the Riders kept the ball.
Two plays later, Kyran Moore made an incredible catch after it was almost picked off by Marcus Sayles at the 5 yard-line. Fajardo was sacked on the next play and had his next pass knocked down before it got to Shaquell Evans.
On the final play of the game, Fajardo threw the ball off the upright.
The Riders came prepared for Winnipeg’s use of Chris Streveler on the ground but, weren’t prepared for just how good Zach Collaros was. He made major plays, including a 50-yard bomb to Darvin Adams to finish the night with 267 yards and a touchdown.
Fajardo out-threw Collaros in yardage but, couldn’t convert in the red zone and tossed a costly interception in the 3rd that Winnipeg got a field goal off.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 107th Grey Cup from Calgary on November 24th at 6PM. The two teams with the longest Grey Cup droughts clash for the first time since 1984 with familiar faces on both sides.
Zach Collaros led Hamilton to back-to-back Grey Cup appearances in his four seasons in Black and Gold with the help of kicker Justin Medlock, while Head Coach Mike O’Shea was a long-time Tiger-Cat in his playing career. Hamilton Kicker Lirim Hajrullahu started his career in Winnipeg back in 2014.