Roughriders will meet Alouettes in Grey Cup
Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan Roughriders ruined the biggest party to begin Grey Cup Week by kicking the hosts and defending champions to the sideline.
Making his first CFL playoff appearance, Durant passed for 204 yards and threw touchdown passes to Andy Fantuz, Chris Getzlaf and Rob Bagg in a 27-17 win over the visiting Calgary Stampeders in Sunday's West Division final in Regina.
The Roughriders advance to the 97th Grey Cup on Nov. 29 at Calgary's McMahon Stadium (4 p.m. MT) against the Montreal Alouettes, who downed B.C. 56-18 earlier Sunday and will appear in their seventh league final since 2000.
The Alouettes fell 22-14 to Calgary in last year's CFL championship, but will enter this year's game as the favourites after beating Saskatchewan 43-10 and 34-25 in the regular season.
"It's a dream matchup for me and for our team," said Roughriders head coach Ken Miller.
"We played very well in Montreal in a [34-25] loss, and it was at that point that [defensive back] Eddie Davis stood up in our locker-room and said we're going to have an opportunity to play these people again."
However, Durant and company will carry plenty of momentum into the big game as they attempt a second Grey Cup win in three years.
In 2007, the Riders ended an 18-year championship drought with a 23-19 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Toronto, highlighted by defensive back James Johnson's Cup-record three interceptions.
Quarterback Kerry Joseph, named the CFL's most outstanding player earlier that week, struggled early and completed just 13 of 34 passes for 181 yards and an interception.
Riders, Alouettes making history
Durant, who was the Roughriders' third-string pivot that season, will try to better that performance in the first-ever Grey Cup matchup between Saskatchewan and Montreal, which last won the Grey Cup in 2002, 25-16 over Edmonton.
"After we won the Grey Cup I took a knee on the field and I told myself that when I had the opportunity I was going to make it back," said the 2009 West all-star, who completed 18 of 25 passes on Sunday.
"I'm glad that we made it back but it's not finished. We have to win it."
Durant, who experienced ups and downs in 18 regular-season starts, overcame a slow start Sunday. The Riders mustered just 17 yards of offence in the first 15 minutes, but racked up 125 yards in the second quarter to tie the game 10-10 after falling behind 10-0 before a raucous, sold-out crowd of more than 30,000 in Regina.
"I've been telling you guys all week, it's another game," Durant told reporters. "Seriously. I wasn't nervous, didn't have any type of feelings. I just went out and played football."
Durant took momentum away from the Stampeders by answering Joffrey Reynolds's 10-yard run early in the second, finding Getzlaf in the end zone for a 10-yard TD strike to complete a drive that started at Saskatchewan's 35-yard line.
Luca Congi then split the uprights from 18 yards to tie the game 10-10.
But the Roughriders didn't stop, scoring 17 straight points to put the game away.
Saskatchewan wide receiver Jason Armstead returned the opening kickoff of the second half 75 yards to the Calgary 20, setting up Fantuz's 10-yard touchdown reception to give the home side its first lead of the contest.
The Roughriders, hosting the West final for the first time in 33 years, made it 24-11 when Durant threw 17 yards to Bagg in the end zone. Earlier in the series, Durant handed the ball to Armstrong, who ran wide right before unleashing a 42-yard pass to Bagg.
It marked the first time this season that Fantuz, Getzlaf and Bagg had touchdowns in the same game.
The Stampeders offence had little success after it amassed 112 yards in the first quarter, thanks to spectacular defensive play by linebacker Rey Williams and linemen Stevie Baggs and John Chick. Williams led all players with 10 defensive tackles and three quarterback sacks.
"They played very well," Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel said of the Riders' defence. "After the first quarter, it was tough for us to do a lot."
Calgary quarterback Henry Burris was sacked four times and tossed an uncharacteristic three interceptions, while Reynolds was shut down in the second half.
The CFL's leading rusher in the regular season carried the ball 12 times for 90 yards after averaging 10 yards per rush against Saskatchewan in the regular season en route to three 100-yard performances.
The Stampeders were attempting to become the first team since the 1996-97 Toronto Argonauts to successfully defend a Grey Cup title and the first since the '94 B.C. Lions to win the title as host squad.
Saskatchewan finished the season with a 3-0-1 record against Calgary.
With files from The Canadian Press