The Ticats fell to the Eskimos 25-18 in an ugly affair yesterday evening. The Ticats looked good early, but the wheels fell off when quarterback Zach Collaros left with a knee injury in the second quarter. From then on out, it was a complete disaster.
So the Ticats may have lost this game by a score of 25-18, but Hamilton’s defense allowed just 10 of those points (we’ll get to where 13 of the remaining 15 came from a little later) and completely shut down the Edmonton passing attack. Mike Reily threw for 49 yards. FOURTY NINE! He had seven completions and no Eskimo player had more than two catches. Kenny Stafford had one catch, Derel Walker had one catch, Adarius Bowman had none. Zero. They shut out the league’s leading receiver last year. If you would have told me before the game that the Ticats would allow fewer than 50 yards through the air, I would have said they won by 40. But of course, that is not what happened.
One of the big reasons for Hamilton’s success shutting down the Edmonton passing attack, and the major reason Adarius Bowman was kept off the stat sheet, was Emanuel Davis. Davis is having an all-star year, and picked off another pass and now leads the league in interceptions with five. The team went into the season looking for a shutdown defensive back and they have found that player in Emanuel Davis.
Boy, oh, boy, if Zach Collaros is lost for the rest of the season, the Ticats are in a lot of trouble. Both Jeff Matthews and Jacory Harris looked like guys who have barely seen the field. Matthews, especially, was terrible and was directly responsible for 13 of Edmonton’s 25 points due to his two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. He also threw another killer interception when Hamilton looked poised to extended the lead in the third quarter. Matthews was simply horrendous, with four total turnovers, and was pulled in favour of Harris, who did not look much better. It really showed just how much this team relies on Collaros, as the offense looked mid-2000s bad once he went out. If the Ticats are to keep their championship hopes alive with Collaros out, they are going to need much better play from their young signal callers.
One particular throw by Matthews needs to be singled out for being the absolute worst throw a quarterback can make. Matthews was pressured and blindly threw the ball to the wide side of the field where no less than three Eskimos awaited, one of which was the recipient of the easiest touchdown he will ever score. Matthews simply cannot, under any circumstances, make that throw. Never, never, never. Hopefully the young man learned from that mistake and we will never see him even think about making a throw like that again.
It is hard to sugarcoat this one; it hurts. This is a tough loss to take simply because the Ticats defense played so well and the game clearly turned when Zach Collaros was lost for the game. Who knows how this plays out if Collaros plays the full 60 minutes, but with Jeff Matthews and Jacory Harris in the game, the Ticats offense was putrid and the defense could only do so much.
The team now has two weeks to prepare for their next game, as they get a week to rest before taking on the Calgary Stampeders at Tim Hortons Field on October 3.
Whether the Ticats faithful will still be thinking Grey Cup going into the next game will be entirely decided by how severe Collaros’ injury is. Many in Hamilton are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.