Ticats lose 40-13 to Lions

Rico Murray, Lavelle Hawkins

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats looked good Friday against the B.C. Lions.

For all of two plays.

Hamilton opened the scoring on their second play from scrimmage as Jeff Mathews connected with Luke Tasker for a 64-yard touchdown. But the Lions dominated the rest of the way, cruising to a 40-13 win.

B..C. quarterback Jonathan Jennings threw for three touchdowns and running back Andrew Harris racked up 119 yards on 16 carries to lead the way. Mathews, meanwhile, finished two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“They whipped us,” said Ticats’ head coach Kent Austin. “They just whipped us for four quarters.”

It was a litany of errors fort he Ticats, particularly in the opening 30 minutes. Return man Brandon Banks decision to return a punt from inside his end zone left the offence with terrible field position and ultimately led to a safety. The ensuing kick was returned to the Ticats’ 20 yard line and converted quickly as Jennings hit Shawn Gore for the major.

A fumble by receiver Junior Collins Jr. deep in Hamilton territory set up the next B.C. touchdown – this one was Jennings to Emanuel Arceneaux – before the Ticats defence let the Lions march 72 yards in two plays for yet another score. Chris Rainey evaded several would-be tacklers as he raced in from 25 yards out.

Another bad decision by Banks – this time he let the ball bounce into the end zone with under a minute remaining in the half – gave the Lions another single and a 24-6 lead.

Things did not improve in the third. The Lions opening drive went for a field goal and Mathews responded by throwing his first interception of the game. On their next possession, Hamilton failed to convert on third and short, turning the ball over on downs.

An interception by Brandon Stewart gave Hamilton their first turnover – and sign of life. The offence responded by driving the field and converting a third-and-seven with a 12 yard touchdown pass from Mathews to Andy Fantuz. Heading to the fourth, Hamilton trailed 27-13.

They would get no closer. The Lions salted the game away with a 11-play, 94-yard drive that took almost five minutes off the clock. Mathews threw another interception that Harris converted for another score.

The game was also costly from an injury perspective as the Ticats lost guard Ryan Bomben to a suspected broken wrist. He had replaced left tackle Cord Howard, who also left the game due to injury.

With the loss, the Ticats fall to 10-6 and will now wait for the result of Saturday’s match up between Ottawa andWinnipeg to see if the Redblacks can close the gap in the East Division. An Ottawa win and they pull into a first place tie with Hamilton. The team’s face each other next Sunday in the first half of a home-and-home set to conclude the regular season.

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