Stampeders end Grey Cup misery with win over Redblacks

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Terry Williams helped the Calgary Stampeders end the team’s Grey Cup misery.

Williams had a record 97-yard punt-return touchdown on a slippery Commonwealth Stadium turf Sunday night to lead Calgary past the Ottawa Redblacks 27-16 in the 106th Grey Cup.

Calgary finally won the CFL title in its third straight appearance; the Stampeders lost 39-33 in overtime to Ottawa in 2016 before dropping a 27-24 decision last year to the Toronto Argonauts. It’s the franchise’s eighth Grey Cup and its first since 2014.

Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell — the CFL’s most outstanding player this season after tossing a league-best 35 TDs — was the game MVP with two touchdown passes but also two interceptions. Stampeders receiver Lemar Durant was named the outstanding Canadian with four catches for 30 yards and a TD and a 22-yard run.

Mitchell finished 24-for-36 passing for 253 yards. Redblacks counterpart Trevor Harris had a rough night, going 20-for-38 for 288 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Ottawa — in its third Grey Cup in four years — appeared to score on Greg Ellingson’s acrobatic one-handed grab in the fourth quarter but replays showed the ball hit the turf. The Redblacks ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Calgary seven-yard line with just over eight minutes remaining.

After Ottawa turned the ball over on downs again, Calgary’s Jamar Wall and Tre Roberson followed up with interceptions on consecutive Redblacks possessions. Roberson’s pick came with 1:22 to play.

Calgary players will receive the $16,000 winner’s share while the Redblacks get $8,000 apiece.

Field conditions take centre stage

A Commonwealth Stadium gathering of 55,819 watched the opening kickoff in 1 C conditions with an 11 kilometre-an-hour wind. But the field in Edmonton proved to be the story of the game.

On Saturday, several Calgary players said the turf was hard and slippery and footwear would be important. During the pre-game warmups, many Stampeders wore shoes featuring short, traditional turf cleats or those with a flat rubber sole.

Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell downplayed the field conditions.

« It’s alright, it is what it is, » he said before the game. « It’s the CFL. »

Watch highlights of Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders win the Grey Cup:

After back-to-back Grey Cup defeats, Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders rode off to a 27-16 win over Ottawa, avenging their loss to the Redblacks in the 2016 championship game. 2:49

But it became apparent early footing would be an issue. That was especially clear with 38 seconds left in the first quarter when Williams had both feet slip from beneath him while returning a missed 47-yard Lewis Ward field goal try.

Rene Paredes put Calgary ahead 27-14 with a 29-yard field goal at 2:54 of the fourth. It was set up by Wynton McManis’s recovery of Diontae Spencer’s fumble on a punt return at the Ottawa 25-yard line.

Calgary went into the fourth leading 24-14 thanks to Paredes’s 34-yard field goal at 11:24 of the third. It came after Ward’s 41-yard boot at 7:56.

Don Jackson had Calgary’s other TD. Paredes booted the converts and two field goals.

Julian Feoli-Gudino had Ottawa’s touchdown. Jean-Christophe Beaulieu added a two-point convert while Ward booted two field goals.

Record-setting punt return TD

Williams provided the first half’s biggest play, a Grey Cup-record 97-yard punt return TD at 14:59 of the second. After taking the ball, Williams nearly slipped heading upfield but an Ottawa defender engaged with a blocker slid on by, allowing Williams to hit the open field, then run past punter Richie Leone to put Calgary ahead 21-11.

Williams provided the entertainment factor in an otherwise sloppy opening half. The two teams combined for four turnovers — three picks and a fumble — along with eight punts and some ugly drops.

Ottawa’s most consistent offensive weapon was William Powell, who ran nine times for 58 yards while sporting bring neon orange shoes before changing to white ones at halftime. But the CFL’s second-leading rusher also had a costly fumble at the Calgary 28 in the second to end a Redblacks’ scoring threat with the team trailing 14-3.

Ottawa pulled to within five at 14-9 on Harris’s 55-yard TD strike at 12:45 to Feoli-Gudino, who broke two tackles after the catch. Harris then found Beaulieu on the two-point convert.

Mitchell put Calgary ahead 14-3 with a 17-yard TD strike to Durant at 6:50. It came two plays after Durant dropped a wide-open screen pass.

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I ‘won’t get parole’ from my misery, mom of 3 dead children says at drunk driver Marco Muzzo’s parole hearing

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GRAVENHURST, ONT.—The parents of three children killed by drunk driver Marco Muzzo are urging the parole board not to release him.

A his parole hearing Wednesday, Muzzo, 32, is asking the board for release on day parole. He pleaded guilty in court in 2016 to several counts of impaired driving causing death and bodily harm for the 2015 crash that killed 65-year-old Gary Neville and his three grandchildren, Daniel Neville-Lake, 9, Harrison, 5, and Milagros, 2. The children’s grandmother and great-grandmother were also seriously injured when Muzzo’s SUV slammed into the family’s minivan.

The 2015 crash killed 65-year-old Gary Neville and his three grandchildren, from left to right, Harrison, 5, Milagros, 2, and Daniel, 9.
The 2015 crash killed 65-year-old Gary Neville and his three grandchildren, from left to right, Harrison, 5, Milagros, 2, and Daniel, 9.  (Kay Prince Photography / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“I don’t and won’t get parole from this life sentence of misery and despair,” mother Jennifer Neville-Lake told the board at Beaver Creek prison in an emotional statement.

She said Muzzo’s expression of remorse rings hollow as he is applying for day parole at the first opportunity.

“I miss just hearing their voices in the house. I miss being a dad,” said Edward Lake in a statement read on his behalf.

Muzzo is considered a low risk to reoffend and his case-management team feels “very strongly” his risk to the community can be managed if he is released to a halfway house for day parole, as well as on full parole when eligible next May.

Read more:

‘You killed all my babies,’ grieving mother tells Marco Muzzo

Marco Muzzo offers tearful apology to grieving couple at sentencing hearing

Marco Muzzo wants damages reduced in lawsuit over drunk driving deaths

“I should have known better, I took a chance,” Muzzo, at times crying, told the board about his decision to drive that day.

The board is expected to make a decision on parole later Wednesday.

An inmate is eligible for day parole six months prior to having served one-third of their sentence. For Muzzo, one-third of his 10-year sentence is next May.

On top of his 10-year prison sentence, Muzzo was also banned from driving for 12 years.

“For as long as Mr. Muzzo has been alive, courts have warned about the consequences of impaired driving,” Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst said when she sentenced the then-29-year-old Muzzo in March 2016. “Yet the message escaped him. It is important that it does not escape others.”

The case attracted widespread attention due to the young age of many of the victims and the Muzzo family’s enormous wealth — estimated at $1.8 billion according to Canadian Business magazine.

It also marked a turning point in the sentencing range for impaired driving causing death, which had previously been about four to eight years in prison, even though the offence carries a maximum term of life in prison. Legal experts said at the time that Muzzo’s 10-year sentence was likely the highest in Canadian history for an offender with no criminal record and who had pleaded guilty.

Court heard that Muzzo’s blood-alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit when he ran a stop sign in Vaughan in September 2015 and crashed into the family’s minivan.

He had picked up his vehicle at Pearson airport after returning from his bachelor party in Miami on a private plane.

A spokesperson speaking to the media before Wednesday’s hearing said the board’s No. 1 question for the day will be: “What is the likelihood that Marco Muzzo will reoffend?”

Offenders typically go to a halfway house if granted day parole. Full parole means the offender can propose a release plan for the board’s approval, which could include release to his home.

Offenders can also cancel or postpone their parole hearing right up to the last minute.

Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter covering legal affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant

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