Romby Bryant’s 68-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Drew Tate with 20 seconds left to play lifted the Calgary Stampeders to a thrilling 36-30 West Division semifinal victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday afternoon at McMahon Stadium.
Calgary now advances to the West Division final at Vancouver’s BC Place next Sunday, with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. MST.
The Roughriders had taken a 30-29 lead with 52 seconds to play thanks to Darian Durant’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Greg Carr, but Tate marched the Stamps 81 yards on three plays to give the Stampeders their first post-season victory since the 2009 West semifinal.
“Drew did a good job of getting a little pump-fake in there and Romby finished the play,” said Stampeders head coach and general manager John Hufnagel of the game-winning touchdown. “Saskatchewan made plays and put us in a position that we had to do something in a short amount of time. It was a really good football game by both football teams.”
Tate, named the starter, earlier in the week, completed 22 of 36 passes for 363 yards and two majors.
“I thought he managed the game well,” said Hufnagel. “You saw the things that he can do — making some plays out of nothing. But we all need to play better next week, Drew included.”
The Roughriders opened the scoring just before the first quarter ended. After a face-masking penalty moved Saskatchewan deep into Calgary territory, Sandro DeAngelis capitalized with a 29-yard field goal.
The Stampeders then responded with a touchdown as three major penalties against Saskatchewan set the stage for Bo Levi Mitchell’s plunge from the one-yard line.
Calgary hit again on their next drive. A Maurice Price catch-and-run of 28 yards, followed by a 15-yard scamper by Jon Cornish set up a 38-yard touchdown pass to Jabari Arthur.
Saskatchewan’s Kory Sheets brought the Riders to within four points on the next drive as walked into the end-zone from 11 yards out after catching a swing pass.
Dressler then powered Saskatchewan to their next score. Following a Stampeders two-and-out, Dressler caught a crossing pattern and ran for 38 yards down to the Calgary 15. Two plays later, Sheets took his second reception in for the touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the half.
However, in a twist of momentum, the extra point was blocked and returned 96 yards by Fred Bennett for two points, creating a 16-16 tie.
The, after a long return by Larry Taylor, Cornish ran tha ball 29 yards and to the Saskatchewan 33 with two seconds left. Rene Paredes then nailed a 50-yard field goal to give Calgary the three-point lead going into halftime.
The third quarter was absent of scoring until there was just under a minute left as Mitchell scored his second one-yard touchdown of the game.
With nine minutes left in the fourth, Dressler took a quick pass up the middle for 58 yards down to the Calgary eight-yard line. Carr grabbed the touchdown pass on the next play to bring Saskatchewan within three points.
The Stampeders thought they had another touchdown a short time later, however, a Nik Lewis catch-and-run for 61 yards was negated due to a pass interference call against Calgary.
Then, a seven-play, 64-yard drive culminated in a 48-yard field goal to make the score 29-23. That set the stage for the wild finish.