OTTAWA — Henry Burris's 93-yard TD strike to Greg Ellingson with just over a minute remaining rallied the Ottawa Redblacks to a stirring 35-28 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division final.
Ellingson made the catch in front of a Hamilton defender, then hesitate briefly before streaking on the outside to the end zone. The play came after Ottawa was called for a chop block and forced back to its 18-yard line.
Hamilton tied the game 28-28 as Jeremiah Masoli, making just his second career playoff start, hit Luke Tasker on a 22-yard scoring strike with 1:34 remaining. Justin Medlock's convert tied it.
The win, before a boisterous TD Place sellout of 25,093, earned Ottawa its first Grey Cup berth since the former Rough Riders lost in the 1981 final to Edmonton.
And the Redblacks will represent the East Division in the CFL championship game after posting just two wins in their inaugural 2014 season. Ottawa will face either the Edmonton Eskimos or Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup game next weekend at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.
Ottawa capped its three-game season sweep of Hamilton. The Redblacks won the two-game home-and-home series to clinch first in the East Division with a 12-6 record.
Hamilton (10-8) finished tied with Toronto for second but got the higher positioning after winning that season series. The Ticats dispatched the Argos 25-22 in the East Division semifinal last weekend at Tim Hortons Field.
Hamilton lost its bid for a third straight Grey Cup appearance. Masoli got his second straight playoff start with incumbent Zach Collaros (knee) and backup Jeff Mathews (concussion) sidelined.
Medlock's 42-yard field goal at 2:14 of the fourth pulled Hamilton to within 25-20 after Masoli's 24-yard TD strike to Tasker was nullified by a Ticats' holding penalty. Medlock's miss from 42 yards out went for a single to cut Ottawa's lead to 28-21 with about three minutes remaining.
Ottawa took a 25-17 lead into the fourth after managing just six points with the wind on Milo field goals of 34 and 45 yards.
Will Powell and Burris had Ottawa's other touchdowns. Milo added the converts and four field goals with the other points coming on a safety.
Masoli and Tiquan Underwood scored Hamilton's other touchdowns. Medlock booted the converts, two field goals and a single.
Milo's 39-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter earned Ottawa a 19-17 half-time lead. After Medlock surrendered the safety, Chris Williams took the return 36 yards to the Hamilton 46-yard line with 29 seconds remaining. Burris had completions of one yard to Brad Sinpoli and 12 yards to Earnest Jackson to set up Milo's boot.
Both squads started the game strong offensively. Hamilton marched 71 yards on 11 plays to open the scoring with Medlock's 10-yard field goal but Ottawa countered with a five-play, 75-yard drive that Powell capped with a two-yard TD run.
Masoli was a solid 15-of-18 passing for 207 yards with a TD and interception while adding 32 yards rushing on seven carries as Hamilton managed 281 net yards offensively. The Ticats also had the ball for 18 minutes in the half.
Burris completed 9-of-14 passes for 123 yards.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press