MONTREAL — It was a $2 hotdog night at Molson Percival Stadium on Thursday night and the football game that accompanied it was very much of the tube steak variety: lots of nasty bits cobbled together into something barely palatable — with lots of gut ache at the end.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats fell 17-13 to the Montreal Alouettes in a display of CFL football that was never to be mistaken for filet mignon. The Ticats committed five turnovers and were willing participants in the 26 penalties called against both teams: guard Pete Dyakowski was flagged for illegal procedure five times.
It all added up to an ugly loss.
“Way too many penalties – we’ll see the quality of the penalties,” head coach Kent Austin said afterwards. “We had opportunities, didn’t capitalize on them, and turned the ball over.”
The less said about the first quarter, the better given that it featured a total of four Montreal points and nine penalties. Hamilton finally got things rolling early in the third with a 12-play drive, capped with a little shovel pass from Zach Collaros to Ray Holley – one of the few offensive bright spots on the night – for a 7-4 lead.
Collaros’ second interception of the evening set up the Alouettes in Hamilton territory but a goal-line stand by the defence — and let’s talk a moment here to recognize the singular girth and greatness of defensive tackle Ted Laurent, who looks like he’s had a hotdog or two in his day — stymied the Montreal scoring chance.
The teams traded field goals before the half was out — Justin Medlock’s came from 53 yards — gave Hamilton a 10-7 at the half.
Things got interesting in a hurry in the third. Collaros went down with a neck injury on the Ticats’ opening drive, left for four plays, came back in, went to the locker-room, then returned for Hamilton’s next possession. In between, the Alouettes put together a nice drive, capped by a pretty Rakeem Cato-to-S.J. Green touchdown strike, and took a four-point lead.
The Ticats got three back after a discombobulated 13-play drive that featured three penalties, two second-and-long conversions and a dropped touchdown pass by Terrell Sinkfield Jr. But the Alouettes responded with their second straight solid drive — Cato looked better as the game progressed — and led 17-13 with just over five to play.
Still, the Ticats had three more possessions with to win the game.
First, they turned the ball over on downs when they couldn’t convert with two cracks on second and short near midfield. Then Collaros threw a third interception when the ball was tipped and caught at the line of scrimmage. A final opportunity with under a minute to play was wasted when Terrence Toliver fell down making a catch— he appeared to have clear path to the end zone — and then fumbled two plays later to seal the deal.
“It’s very frustrating. We didn’t play well as a team but it’s all on me,” Toliver said. “I have to protect the ball.”
Hamilton, who were off last week on a bye, fall to 1-2 and will now have to wait another nine days before playing their next game in Saskatchewan against the Roughriders.
It might take that long to digest this loss.