The Hamilton Tiger-Cats battled the elements– and themselves – to fall 23-20 to the Calgary Stampeders Friday night.
Rene Paredes kicked a 37-yard field with no time remaining as the Stamps scored six points in under a minute to turn a three-point Ticat advantage into a stunning defeat. With the winds gusting at speeds approaching 60 km/h – Calgary had the wind the fourth quarter – Hamilton’s Justin Medlock’s final punt travelled just 11 yards to set up the winning score for the visitors.
Jeff Mathews, making his first career start in place of the injured Zach Collaros committed two of the Ticats four costly turnovers.
The Ticats jumped out to an early lead courtesy of some stellar special teams play. Return man opened Brandon Banks opened the scoring with an 82-yard punt return and kicker Justin Medlock added a single and a 57-yard field goal to a Calgary safety for 13-0 advantage.
Hamilton, however, followed that up by committing three turnovers. A Mathews interception was negated when the Ticats’ defence forced and recovered a fumble but new running back Michael Ford gave it right back, coughing it up on the very next play.
A Banks fumble on the first play of the second quarter gave Calgary excellent field position and they quickly turned it into seven points. A single and two Rene Paredes field goals, including one as time expired, gave the Stamps a 14-13 halftime lead.
After registering just 36 yards passing in the first half, Mathews came out firing in the third. With the wind at his back, he completed four passes on a nine-play drive to the Calgary 16 yard line… then fumbled, with the Stamps recovering. Medlock missed a 40-yard field goal and the Ticats scored exactly zero points in their 15 minutes with the wind.
Calgary extended their advantage to four with a 29-yard Paredes field goal but the Ticats scored the game’s first points against the wind when Ford rumbled 59 yards after a short toss from Mathews to the Stampeder doorstep. One play later, Mathews punched it in and the Ticats led by three.
But Paredes hit a 46 yard field goal to tie it with 48 seconds left, then buried the winner after the Ticats couldn’t muster a first down and Medlock shanked the punt.
With the loss, the Ticats fall to 8-5 and into a first-place tie in the East Division with the Ottawa Redblacks. Hamilton will retain the top spot based on point differential – the teams have yet to play each other this season – but have now lost two straight. They face the Saskatchewan Roughriders next Friday back at Tim Hortons Field.