Bombers heading to Grey Cup

(QMI Agency file photo)

(QMI Agency file photo)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:29 PM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers sent their home for the last 58 years out in style on Sunday, advancing to the Grey Cup for the 26th time in franchise history.

The defensive greats who graced Canad Inns Stadium over the years were surely bursting with pride as they watched the Bombers absolutely smother the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 19-3 in the East Final.

The offensive linemen who shed blood and sweat at the stadium would have hoisted a cold one, too, for the offensive line that paved the way for running back Chris Garrett to dash for 190 yards and a touchdown on the last play in the stadium.

The Bombers will meet the host B.C. Lions in the 99th Grey Cup on Sunday night at Vancouver’s B.C. Place and attempt to end their 20-year title drought, the longest in the CFL. Winnipeg and B.C. have met in the Grey Cup once, with the Bombers prevailing 22-21 in Ottawa on Nov. 27, 1988.

The Lions thumped the Edmonton Eskimos 40-23 in Sunday’s West Final at B.C. Place. The Bombers beat the Leos twice this season, but that was before B.C. turned its season around en route to finishing first in the West Division.

“It’s a home game for B.C., so crowd noise will be a huge factor in that place,” Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said “They’re a very talented football team with a great defence and a good all-around team.

“They cause challenges, but we’ve got some challenges that people will have to work on with us.”

Winnipeg, which was 4-14 in 2010 under new GM Joe Mack and head coach Paul LaPolice, is just the second team since 1982 to be in the basement of their division one year and qualify for the Grey Cup the next. The 1998 Tiger-Cats were the other.

“To go from last place in the CFL to first place this year, it’s unbelievable,” said defensive tackle Doug Brown, who will hope to win his first Grey Cup next Sunday in the final game of his 11-year career. “Everything these guys have been through: so much doubt, so much adversity, all the hurdles and obstacles we had to overcome with our coach passing.

“We’re one step away from paying Richard Harris a tribute he deserves.”

Harris, the team’s defensive line and assistant head coach, died of a heart attack in his Bomber office on July 26. So it was a fitting tribute to Harris that the Bombers allowed just 39 rushing yards — and 176 yards overall — on Sunday in front of 30,051 frozen spectators.

Winnipeg beat Hamilton all four times they met this season.

“We just did so many good things that a team needs to do to win,” LaPolice said.

After allowing the Ticats to score just three points in the first quarter with the 20 km/h wind out of the south that produced a wind chill factor of -21, the Bombers blanked them the rest of the way. Hamilton also lost quarterback Kevin Glenn to a knee injury in the third quarter, but it didn’t matter.

Garrett, meanwhile, ran roughshod over the Tiger-Cats defence, as did quarterback Buck Pierce, who showed no signs of a sprained knee that forced him to miss the regular-season finale and dashed nine times for 66 yards. Winnipeg finished with a whopping 271 yards on the ground.

“We knew what they were going to do,” Ticats middle linebacker Rey Williams said. “We just weren’t able to do it. At the end of the day, their will was stronger than ours.”

Bombers cornerback Jovon Johnson said Saturday that the season wouldn’t have been a success just for the turnaround they made. They needed to get to the big game, and Swaggerville once again led the way.

“The trip to the Grey Cup is special,” cornerback Jovon Johnson said. “This is a Hollywood story. Hopefully we can have it with a Hollywood ending.”

The Bombers will travel to Vancouver on Tuesday.

Here's the live chat that ran during the game.


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