The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have added a giant steam whistle to their new stadium, a 15-foot gold monstrosity that sounds off every time the team scores a touchdown or wins a game.
But Ticats defensive end Eric Norwood thinks a few items need to be added to the list of criteria that set it off.
“I love the steam whistle but we need to get it blowing for turnovers and big plays,” Norwood said after his team’s 34-18 win over the Toronto Argonauts. “I want hear more of that thing.”
It was the defence that forced five, second-half turnovers, including a key stop on second-and-short early in the third quarter that Hamilton head coach Kent Austin pegged as a turning point.
“Any time you do that it switches the momentum back in your favour,” Austin said. “The turnover in the third quarter was a big key.”
The offence did it’s part as well, quarterback Zach Collaros threw three touchdown passes, two of them to Bakari Grant, while racking up an efficient 229 yards passing. Luke Tasker, playing his first game of the 2015 season after recovering from a hamstring injury, registered seven catches for 73 yards.
The win moves the Ticats to 8-0 at Tim Hortons Field, but it could also be a costly one: both running back C.J. Gable and Canadian receiver Andy Fantuz left the game with arm injuries.
“It makes me mad. It’s frustrating, especially for two guys who have worked so hard in the off-season,” Collaros said afterwards. “I hope they’re back soon because they are big for us.
The Ticats also showed some creativity on special teams. They opened the scoring when defensive back Brandon Stewart lined up behind punter Hugh O’Neill as he kicked the ball, making him eligible to recover the football. Not only did he track it down, but he scooped it up and rumbled 23 yards into the end zone for his second touchdown of the season.
“It was a perfect kick by O’Neill and Brandon did a great job hustling,” Austin said. “It was a well-executed play.”
With the Ticats leading 21-7 in the second quarter, the game was delayed 26 minutes when lightning strikes sent both teams and the sold out crowd running for cover. The Argos scored a safety to cut the lead to 12 going into the half.
But the key moment came when the Argonauts turned the ball over on their first possession of the second half going for it on third-and-one at their own 43-yard-line. The Ticat defence stuffed Harris for no gain and Hamilton took over. Collaros promptly made them pay. Two straight connections to Fantuz and another to Tolliver put Hamilton on the Toronto doorstep.
A short toss to Grant gave him his second touchdown of the night and the Ticats a 28-9 lead.
After the teams traded field goals, the Ticat defence took over, forcing a turnover on downs with the Argos at the Hamilton 11-yard line, then stopping them on third-and-short near midfield. Norwood forced Harris to fumble — Ted Laurent recovered — with just under five minutes to play to all but seal it.
With the win, the Ticats improve to 3-2 and move into a share of first place in the East Division with both Toronto and Ottawa.
They host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Sunday before finishing their three-game home stand with an Aug. 15 date against the B.C. Lions.
Norwood is hoping the whistle will going off at regular intervals.
“We take pride in winning for ourselves and winning for the city,” he said.