Fred Bennett took to the pulpit on a late Sunday afternoon and let ’er rip.
“Talk about us a little bit,” began the Calgary Stampeders’ loquacious defensive back. “That’s all you gotta do. Talk about Calgary, because we’re here and we’re not going nowhere.
“They said they wanted us and they got what they wanted. They got exactly what they wanted! We accept all challenges and we don’t back down from no challenge at all. It’s supposed to happen like this, no other way. But we can’t ever forget . . . we’ve got one more.”
That one more is only the biggest game on the CFL calendar, the 102nd Grey Cup, to which the Stamps booked a ticket on a balmy November day, dominating the Edmonton Eskimos 43-18 in the 2014 Western Final in front of 31,004 delirious fans at McMahon Stadium.
The Stamps will meet the Hamilton Tiger-Cats — who defeated the Montreal Alouettes 40-24 in the East final — next Sunday in Vancouver.
Exploiting the Eskimos’ defence early and chalking up a large lead heading into halftime, the Stamps were not to be denied on this day as quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell cannily marshalled the offence and a staunch defence not only corralled an obviously not-100-per cent Mike Reilly but knocked him out of the game early in the fourth quarter.
“It’s so easy,” said Mitchell, who threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns. “I’m so blessed with these guys. I can put it in front of them, I can throw it high and let them make a play. That’s what makes my job so easy.”
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It began with a 46-yard toss to Marquay McDaniel, who nipped in behind Edmonton’s Alonzo Lawrence and scored at the 3:33 mark. Early in the second, Mitchell found Simon Charbonneau-Campeau on a 61-yarder, which led to the QB sneaking in from two yards out.
“Make sure we don’t come out hesitating,” added Mitchell. “We didn’t want to say we’re going to stick to the run game and see if y’all can stop it or not. If you come in the box and take away the run game, then we’re going to go over the top.”
“With all the talk this week, we wanted to throw the first punch at them and knock them down so they would play on their heels the whole game,” explained Charbonneau-Campeau. “They had to get off the man-to-man pretty quickly because we did pretty good in the first and second quarter. I was happy, too, because it was the same route of the hit I had in Saskatchewan (which resulted in a concussion) and it didn’t end up the same way.”
McDaniel, who caught two passes for 58 yards, heaped praise on his young quarterback.
“We knew we were going to get man-coverage all game and he spread the ball around, kept them on their toes. He made good reads, trusted what he saw,” McDaniel noted. “As receivers we love that. Bo did a great job finding guys and put the ball to where we could make plays.”
One of those plays was a 78-yarder to Jon Cornish, who somehow eluded a whole slew of tacklers until he saw nothing but pasture, scoring at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter to put Calgary up 22-1. Cornish would add a shorty on the ground near the game’s end.