Zach Collaros’ 13-yard TD strike to Darvin Adams in overtime earned the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a thrilling 33-25 Grey Cup win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on a windy Sunday night.
After hitting Adams to cap the opening possession of the extra session, Collaros, the CFL’s outstanding player, found Rasheed Bailey for the two-point convert.
Kyrie Wilson cemented Winnipeg’s second straight Grey Cup victory by intercepting Hamilton’s Jeremiah Masoli, whose pass deflected off two Bombers defenders before it got to Wilson.
Collaros was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, while Winnipeg receiver Nic Demski was named the top Canadian.
Hamilton forced overtime with Michael Domagala’s 13-yard field goal with four seconds remaining. It came after Winnipeg’s Deatrick Nichols batted down Masoli’s second-down pass to Jaelon Acklin.
Winnipeg trailed 19-10 heading into the fourth but had a brisk wind — which gusted to nearly 50 kilometres throughout the night.
After Castillo’s 20-yard field goal, Collaros threw a 29-yard TD strike to Demski before Castillo’s 95-yard kickoff single pulled the Bombers to within 22-21 with 5:33 remaining.
Castillo made it a three-point game with a 76-yard kickoff after his fifth field goal of the night. He also had two singles.
Evans injured, replaced by Masoli
Masoli came into the contest in the second quarter with Hamilton trailing 7-0. He replaced starter Dane Evans, who suffered an apparent neck injury after falling under two Bombers on a one-yard run.
Masoli finished 20-of-25 passing for 185 yards with two TDs and an interception. Collaros completed 21-of-32 passes for 240 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Last week in the East final, Evans replaced Masoli and ran for two TDs while finishing 16-of-16 passing in Hamilton’s 27-19 road win over Toronto.
The temperature at kickoff was a 5 C but a 24-kilometre southwest wind made it feel like 2 C to start.
And it was evident early the wind would be a factor. Castillo opened the game with a 72-yard, wind-aided kickoff before Hamilton punter Joel Whitford’s first boot went 34 yards into the wind.
But the conditions didn’t bother the record Tim Hortons Field gathering of 26,324, the overwhelming majority clad in black and gold to support a Ticats squad playing its first home Grey Cup game since 1972.
Hamilton’s last Grey Cup win came in 1999.
“It wasn’t pretty. But that’s the kind of football we play,” said Winnipeg defensive lineman Willie Jefferson. “We play dirty, grimy, ugly football and nine times out of 10 we come out on top.”
Winnipeg becomes the first CFL team to win consecutive Grey Cups since Montreal Alouettes (2009-10). The Bombers also recorded consecutive Grey Cups victories for the third time but first time since 1961-62.
Steven Dunbar and Brandon Banks scored touchdowns for Hamilton. Domagala had three field goals and two converts. The other points came on a safety.
Castillo also added a convert while Marc Legghio added a single.
Domagala’s 10-yard field goal at 3:18 of the fourth put Hamilton ahead 22-10.
Castillo made it 10-10 with a 15-yard field goal with the wind at 6:26 of the third. And after Winston Rose stopped Masoli on a third-down gamble, Cameron Kelly’s 43-yard interception return gave Hamilton possession at Winnipeg 27-yard line.
Masoli took advantage with an 11-yard TD pass to Banks at 10:40 to put Hamilton ahead 17-10. A conceded safety at 14:28 stretched the Ticats’ advantage to 19-10.
Masoli puts Hamilton on top before half-time
Masoli’s 12-yard TD strike to Dunbar with 15 seconds remaining in the second staked Hamilton to its 10-7 half-time lead. Masoli entered the game with 7:10 remaining in the quarter when Evans was injured after falling under two Bombers on a one-yard run.
Masoli provided a definite spark, finishing six-of-eight passing for 65 yards while rushing for 12 yards.
Masoli helped engineer a 12-play, 73-yard march that Domagala capped with a 13-yard field goal at 12:34. Then following a Legghio 31-yard punt, Masoli hit Don Jackson on a 36-yard completion before finding Dunbar as Hamilton did the most with the wind to take the half-time advantage.
Castillo’s 34-yard field goal at 1:54 gave Winnipeg a 7-0 lead.
“Jeremiah had an unbelievable game and an unbelievable last series there,” said Collaros. “I thought we had him with the wind and everything, but he put together a really nice drive and they made a field goal. No doubt on that final drive for us. And then our defence is our defence.”
Winnipeg took a 4-0 lead in the first with the wind. Castillo’s 38-yard field goal at 6:44 came following Alden Darby’s interception. It came a play after Hamilton had recovered Janarion Grant’s punt-return fumble.
Then Legghio had a 70-yard single at 12:29 in the lowest-scoring opening quarter since the ’08 Grey Cup. Hamilton also managed just seven net offensive yards.
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