TICATS OFFENCE CONTROLS BOMBERS IN HOME OPENER WIN AT THF
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats dominated both sides of the ball for long stretches on Friday night en route to a 31-17 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Tim Hortons Field.
Ticats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli broke the 300-yard passing mark for the eighth-straight game, Hamilton’s defence largely shut down the Chris Streveler-led Bombers offence — at one point forcing six consecutive two-and-outs — and the Tabbies built an important cushion in the second half.
Masoli finished the night with 31 completions for 369 yards, while three of his receivers eclipsed the 80-yard receiving mark; defensively, the Ticats limited Winnipeg for the better part of three quarters before a late Bomber comeback attempt.
The Bombers defence got off to a hot start, as rookie defensive back Marcus Sayles stepped up and intercepted a Jeremiah Masoli pass intended for Terrence Toliver; Sayles then took off and scampered nearly 40 yards down inside the Hamilton 30-yard line.
Four plays later, Winnipeg found the end zone on a plunging one-yard Andrew Harris touchdown dive. Justin Medlock’s convert then opened up a 7-0 lead for the visitors.
Masoli and co. found their offensive rhythm later in the first quarter; the Ticat pivot found Brandon Banks for 37 yards, then running back Sean Thomas-Erlington battered the ball down to the 1-yard line, setting up a short Mercer Timmis touchdown run. Lirim Hajrullahu’s convert tied the ballgame at seven.
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea then went into his bag of tricks with a fake-punt run by Jesse Briggs to extend a drive; three plays later, Medlock drilled a 38-yard field goal to retake the lead for Winnipeg.
That lead did not last long, as Hajrullahu nailed a 50-yard boot on the ensuing drive to draw the Ticats level.
A run by Thomas-Erlington — featuring a ridiculous hurdle over a Winnipeg defender — then set up a 17-yard chip shot of a field goal by Hajrullahu.
Another kick from Hajrullahu, this time from 42 yards out as the second-quarter clock expired, sent the Ticats to the locker room with a 16-10 lead at the half.
Masoli came out firing in the third quarter, completing six straight passes to set up Timmis’s second touchdown plunge of the evening from four yards out; the two-point convert fluttered incomplete, and Hamilton led 22-10.
The Ticats continued to stifle Streveler and the Winnipeg offence, and Masoli was more than happy to seize the opportunity to widen the gap: After a Bomber two-and-out, Hamilton’s offence needed just four plays to find the end zone on a pretty 25-yard Masoli-to-Toliver connection.
Coordinator Jerry Glanville’s Hamilton defence forced six straight Winnipeg two-and-outs.
But, there was more than a bit of life left in the Bombers’ rookie quarterback, as he sprinted his way into the end zone with 10 minutes left to cut the deficit — following Medlock’s convert — to 14 points.
Despite running a strong three-minute drill, Streveler and co. were unable to find the end zone late, sealing their fate.
While Mercer Timmis was the story in the Ticat back field in Week 2, it was Sean Thomas-Erlington who stole the show in black and gold with a dazzling 92-yard performance.
Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill registered a game-high 10 tackles in the defeat; veteran Ticat Simoni Lawrence paced his team with six tackles and also recorded a sack.
Streveler finished the night with a 17-for-28, 146-yard line; the 23-year-old did not throw a touchdown or interception in the defeat.
With the win, the Tiger-Cats improved to 2-1 on the young season; June Jones’s team will now travel to Saskatchewan for a date with the Roughriders (1-1) in Week 4’s Thursday Night Football matchup (9 p.m. ET).
The loss dropped the Bombers to 1-2; Mike O’Shea’s group will return home in Week 4 for a date with the BC Lions next Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET).