(Mostly) stinky offence sinks Ticats against Redlacks

The city of Hamilton may not stink but the Tiger-Cats offence has become downright odoriferous.

After registering just one offensive touchdown in two games against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Ticats scored just a single major against the Ottawa Redblacks on Saturday afternoon at Tim Hortons in a 21-15 loss. Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward kicked seven field goals in the win.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s numbers were decent – 352 yards on 26 of 38 passing – but he steered the team into the end zone just once while throwing an interception. The Hamilton defence limited the Redblacks to five field goals but failed to generate a turnover – another Achilles heel so far this season.

Hamilton actually moved the ball effectively in the early going but couldn’t convert a couple of long drives into points. One ended with a blocked field goal that went for a single the other a Masoli interception – and a possible suspension for receiver Jalen Saunders, who took a shot a prone defender after the pick.

On the strength of two Lewis Ward field goals, the Redblacks took a 6-1 lead into the second quarter but the Ticats continued to struggle finishing drives in the second frame. Lirim Hajrullahu missed a 31-yard field goal but connected on a 49 yarder to cut the lead to just one.

While the Ticats were struggling to finish drives on offence, the defence did a decent job keeping Ottawa in check, forcing three two-and-outs and limiting Redblack quarterback Trevor Harris to just eight passing yards in the second quarter. They had a golden opportunity at an interception – turnovers have been exceedingly hard to come by – but it bounced off Cariel Brooks’ hands to the turf.

Ward hit a 48-yarder on Ottawa’s early in the third as the game bogged down into a battle of field position as the Ticats punted four times in the quarter. The Redblacks added another triple earlier in the fourth to extend their death-by-a-thousand kicks lead to 15-5.

The Ticats put together another long drive mid-way through the fourth, an 11-play effort that took them to the Ottawa 10 yard line… where they promptly settled for a field goal.

The Redblacks added their sixth field goal on their next drive that restored the two-score lead.

Masoli finally threw a touchdown pass – a 29-yarder to Jalen Saunders – but it came with under two minutes to play and Hamilton couldn’t convert on the on-side kick and Redblacks added another field goal.

Hamilton got one more chance, taking it down to the Ottawa 24 but took two sacks to end the game.

Penalties were also an issue: Hamilton was flagged 11 times for 157 yards, more than double Ottawa’s yardage total. Newcomer Jamal Westerman took two unnecessary roughness penalties while the other new additions – left tackle Avery Jordan and receiver Chris Williams – also struggled to make a positive impact.

With the loss, the Ticats fall to 2-4, two games behind the 4-3 Redblacks who are first in the East. Hamilton travels to Montreal next Friday to take on the Alouettes and (likely) some guy named Manziel.