Milton: Justin Medlock delivers a kick for the ages

Justin Medlock; Simoni Lawrence

Justin Medlock knows all the local stories and has always wanted to craft one himself.

Tick off another box on the to-do list of the Tiger-Cats’ money-in-the-bank Cat kicker.

Medlock, who came into the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts in 2009, smoothly stroked a 47-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock to give Hamilton an improbable – given their injuries – victory over, yes, the Argos on Sunday afternoon.

It may be a step or two down from Ian Sunter’s Grey Cup-winning field goal in 1972, and Paul Osbaldiston’s ridiculous 54-yarder through capricious eddies of air to put Hamilton into the 1998 Grey Cup.

But Medlock will now be included among the true fairy tales that Cats Crazies tell their grandkids at night.

Like the others, he did it at home, but he also did it against the Argos. No Ticat fan needs further explanation.

“I definitely think about those things, ” Medlock said after the game. “I’ve seen the Ossie kicks. One of the first things I felt when I came here was that I wanted to kick a game-winner in the playoffs just like him.”

As soon as his foot struck the ball, he knew he had.

With the stands of Tim Hortons Field in complete and delirious disarray, Medlock was mobbed by his teammates as he channelled a little Simoni Lawrence.

“Simoni always says in situations like that, “Zip ’em up, body bag, ‘” Medlock said of the Ticats’ colourful linebacker. “I was saying a lot of that out there.”

With the Ticats missing their top two quarterbacks, Medlock’s consistency has become even more important. He was third in the league with an 89.4 field goal conversion percentage, the best of his five-year CFL career.

And he kicked the most three-pointers (42) of any kicker in the league. Earlier in the game he’d been good from 22 yards and a whopping 55, one yard short of the CFL record set by Bernie Ruoff in 1984.

That means the league’s three longest playoff field goals have been struck by Hamilton feet: Ruoff, Osbaldiston and now Medlock.

Only a minute before his instantly-legendary field goal, Medlock had to move to the side to take a snap and hit a short 39-yard punt with the wind. Three plays later, the Argos had tied the game on a field goal by Swayze Waters, whose two earlier misses into the wind helped decide the game.

“I was actually really mad about that last punt, ” Medlock said. “Before that we had three punts inside of the 15, we really pinned them a lot. It was the worst snap-punt operation we had the whole day.”

But there were no glitches in the snap-hold-kick operation with that dramatic 0:00 glaring brightly on the giant scoreboard, directly in line with the ball’s flight path. In fact, the snap from Mathieu Gerard – who took over field-goal snap duties only four weeks ago when Aaron Crawford suffered a stinger – the hold from Luke Tasker, and the kick from Medlock comprised a chain of calm confidence.

Gerard and Medlock both say that Tasker’s great hands have rescued potential missed kicks and that gives them self-belief. And Tasker said that Gerard’s confidence in him, gives him confidence in Gerard.

“Matt gave a great snap, ” Tasker said. “In the past maybe I would have been nervous in that situation. But we’ll go weeks at a time now without even the laces facing the wrong way. Justin gave me a little fist pump before he kicked it … and I knew he was going to crush it.”

Tasker, who stays head down until he purposefully takes the time to open his hand so he doesn’t sneak an early peak like a bad golfer, knew it was good as soon as he looked up and saw the ball’s arc. And, presumably, the 0:00 which gave it all context.

“Ecstatic, awesome, ” Tasker said afterward. “When you’re in training camp or in the off-season, this part of the season seems so far away.

“This is the reward. … This is why we do it. And to do it with this team? “Unbelievable.”

He wasn’t the only one using that word.

 

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