CALGARY — Running back Andrew Harris made Canadian Football League history and ended the Winnipeg Blue Bombers championship drought on Sunday night.
The 32-year-old Winnipeg native had a rushing and a receiving touchdown as the Blue Bombers stunned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 in the 107th Grey Cup.
Harris rushed for 134 yards and caught six passes for 35 yards to become the first player ever to be named the game’s top player and best Canadian.
He is the first Canadian to be named the Grey Cup’s most valuable player since the legendary Russ Jackson of the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1969.
Harris and Co. earned $16,000 apiece while Hamilton players — who wore their home black uniforms and were 10-0 this season at Tim Hortons Field — received $8,000.
Harris’s awards are not without controversy. He served a two-game suspension for a positive drug test earlier in the season. That led to his being snubbed in voting for the league’s individual honours despite leading the CFL in rushing for a third straight season.
The Blue Bombers defence also helped in the victory, forcing seven turnovers and earning six sacks.
Winnipeg had not won a Grey Cup title since 1990. The second longest drought belongs to the Tiger-Cats, whose last title came in 1999.
Hamilton suffered its 16th straight loss at McMahon Stadium, the previous 15 coming against the hometown Calgary Stampeders.
Watch: Hamilton Ticats Demoralized After Grey Cup Loss.
Collaros had spent time this season with Saskatchewan and Toronto — ultimately he was traded by both teams — before landing with Winnipeg in October. He’d missed significant time recovering from a season-opening concussion suffered against Hamilton, which earned Ticats linebacker Simoni Lawrence a two-game suspension.
The Tiger-Cats came in as the solid favourite after a dominant 2019 season. The Ticats posted a CFL-best 15-3 regular-season mark, a single-season franchise record, to take first place in the East Division.
Wide receiver Brandon Banks had been a critical part of Hamilton’s offence all season. He was named the CFL’s most outstanding player on Thursday at the league’s annual awards ceremony.
Hamilton’s high-power offence led the CFL in points per game (30.6), yards per game (395.8), passing yards (313.3 per game), first downs (398) and TDs (57). It featured receivers Banks (112 catches, 1,550 yards and 13 TDs) and Bralon Addison (95 catches, 1,236 yards, seven TDs).
The combination of Harris and an aggressive defence staked Winnipeg to an emphatic 21-6 half-time lead. Harris ran five times for 53 yards and a TD while registering four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately for the Tiger-Cats, Banks saw only one play in the second half. He was injured when Blue Bombers defensive back Mike Jones landed a big hit on the 31-year-old receiver early in the third quarter. The league’s leading receiver left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 24, 2019.