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Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell hoists the Grey Cup after defeating the Ottawa Redblacks in the championship game on Sunday.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

The Calgary Stampeders overcame two years of frustration and a slippery field on Sunday to beat the Ottawa Redblacks, 27-16 in the 106th Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium. It is the eighth time the team has won the championship of Canadian football and comes after losses in the title game in each of the last two years.

“We are pretty excited,” Calgary coach Dave Dickenson said. The victory spared him the indignity of becoming only the second coach in CFL history to lose the Grey cup three straight years. "We have been down the last few years.

“You come into the game looking at whet we can do differently, what you can do to get over the hurdle. You want to seethe view from the top.”

Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell – the league’s most outstanding player after tossing a league-best 35 TDs during the regular season – was 24-for-36 passing for 253 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in what could be his final game with the Stampeders. The talented quarterback from Texas – who was the game MVP – is about to become a free agent and has received queries from teams in the NFL.

“I am letting my agent handle it,” Mitchell said after he and his teammates hoisted the Grey Cup on a stage in the end zone as confetti fell around them. “I will explore my options. I love being here but I am not a complacent guy. I am not going to stay somewhere just because I am comfortable.”

The loss ended the Redblacks’ dream of winning another Grey Cup. It was their third appearance in the championship finale since their inaugural season in 2014. They beat Calgary in the final in 2016.

A sellout crowd of 55,819 turned out on a chilly but seasonable day for late November in northern Alberta. The temperature was near freezing at kickoff and fell over the next few hours. Players on both teams struggled with their footing on the icy turf. Thousands of fans tailgated in the parking lot beforehand and cheered wildly for three hours after that in between a halftime performance by Alessia Cara, the Grammy Award-winning singer from Canada.

If not exactly rooting for the Redblacks, many Edmontonians cheered against their provincial rivals, booing as they came out for pregame warmups. Calgary will play host to the Grey Cup next year, perhaps then Calgarians can return the favour if the Eskimos get that far. After a promising start, they went 9-9 this season and missed the playoffs.

Both teams looked nervous at the start. Ottawa’s Greg Ellingson dropped an easy throw from Trevor Harris on the second play. Mitchell underthrew a receiver in the end zone and was picked off by Jonathan Rose, who was suspended for shoving an official during last week’s East Division final but had the decision reversed on appeal. Harris had another throw batted down, then had a poorly thrown toss intercepted at his own 37-yard-line by Ciante Evans.

That turnover led to the game’s first score, a 21-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Mitchell to Eric Rogers. The Redblacks blitzed on the play, leaving Rogers wide open in the right flat. He bolted into the end zone untouched.

Ottawa put a drive together at the end of the first quarter but still ended up without points. Lewis Ward, the most outstanding rookie and special-teams player in the CFL, sent a 48-yard field goal try wide to the left. The Redblacks kicker made 51-of-52 previous field-goal attempts this season, including a record 33 in a row.

Ward made amends a few minutes later, however, converting a 29-yard kick with 12 minutes 32 seconds left in the second quarter to cut Calgary’s lead to 7-3. The field goal was set up by a 27-yard completion from Trevor Harris to R.J. Harris. It was only Harris’s second completion of the game. He had three attempts go awry in the first quarter; he only missed three passes in a 46-27 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division final last week.

The Stampeders drove 75 yards to their second score, a drive that featured completions by Mitchell of 20 and 11 yards to Rogers, 26 yards to Julian Lynch, five yards to Chris Matthews and 17 for a touchdown to Lemar Durant with 8:10 left in the second. The teams traded turnovers – another interception by Mitchell and a fumble by Ottawa’s William Powell – before Harris found Julian Feoli-Gudino down the sideline for a 55-yard score. A two-point convert pass from Harris to Jean-Christophe Beaulieu trimmed Calgary’s lead to 14-11with 2:15 left in the half.

Disaster struck for the Redblacks on the next-to-last play of the half when Calgary’s Terry Williams fielded a punt at his own 13 and raced 97 yards, reaching the end zone with one second remaining. It was the fourth punt Williams has returned for a touchdown this season, and the longest in Grey Cup history.

“I knew what I could do, I just wanted to show the whole world,” WIlliams said as he stood in the end zone beside the stage. After finding an opening, he bolted around Ottawa punter Rich Leone on the way to the end zone. I got past the punter and ran for my life.

“There was no way we were going to lose this game.”

The teams traded field goals in the third quarter, then Rene Paredes of Calgary added another in the fourth to increase the margin.

“When Terry broke loss on the punt return, it was a sigh of relief,” Mitchell said. “We all call him Scary Terry. When he takes off, he is really scary.”

Mitchell had joked this week about coming out on the losing end in the two previous Grey Cups, saying he planned to eat a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast Sunday morning from a box with Doug Flutie’s picture on it for good luck.

“Damn, it feels good,” he said as he sat down to answer questions from newsmen after the game. “It wasn’t about redemption against anybody else. It just felt like we had been on the top too much without getting the job done.”

Calgary easily won both regular-season meetings between the teams and was listed as a four-point favourite.

The Stampeders scored the second-most points in the league and allowed the fewest while compiling a CFL-best 13-5 regular-season record. They were the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot in Week 13, but struggled in the West Division final before coming away with a 22-14 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Ottawa went 11-7 before it clinched a berth in the Grey Cup with the triumph over Hamilton in the East final. Harris set a playoff record by completing 90 per cent of his passes and throwing for six touchdowns in the game.

This was the first Grey Cup start for the 32-year-old, who played for a handful of teams in the Arena and United Football Leagues before he landed in the CFL in 2012 with the Toronto Argonauts. He has started most of Ottawa’s games since 2016, but sat out its Grey Cup victory over Calgary when Henry Burris returned from injury.

He went 20 of 38 for 288 yards against the Stampeders, but was intercepted three times. The Redblacks also lost two fumbles and turned the ball over on downs inside Calgary’s 10-yard-line while behind in the fourth quarter. The Stampeders were 10-1 when they led at halftime this season and 11-0 when they held a lead at the end of the third. They also were 11-0 when they had fewer turnovers than their opponent,.

On Sunday night, they turned the ball over just twice on Mitchell’s missed throws early in the game, and won their first Grey Cup since 2014.

“Each time you realize how hard it is to get here,” Mitchell said. “After the last two years, this is the sweetest feeling I have ever had.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Ottawa receiver Brad Sinopoli dropped a pass on the game's second play. In fact, it was Greg Ellingson.

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