Masoli stakes claim to starting QB job in Ticats pre-season win

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats beat the Ottawa Redblacks 42-25 in pre-season action on Friday but here are the most important numbers of the night: 136, 60, 1.

Those are the passing yards, completion percentage and touchdown throws for Ticats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who all but locked up the No. 1 job by playing a solid quarter and a half. Now in his fifth CFL season, Masoli orchestrated two scoring drives – including a nine-play, 76-yard beauty – and showed signs of developing some chemistry with some key Ticat receivers.

Chad Owens had five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown, while Luke Tasker caught three balls for 31 yards as the Ticats stormed out to 28-6 halftime lead. Running back C.J Gable had 30 yards on five carries and a score.

The Ticats’ defence generated three first half turnovers, including an interception and fumble recovery by Rico Murray. Hamilton also scored twice on special teams, one via a fake punt and another off a muffed punt.

The Redblacks looked very much like a team that decided to leave 21 of 24 offensive and defensive starters at home, including quarterbacks Henry Burris and Trevor Harris. They finish the pre-season 1-1, same as Hamilton.

The other big question coming into to training camp for Hamilton – who would handle the kicking duties? – is also likely answered. Cody Mandell handled things in the first half, badly missing a 49 yard field goal and two converts while squibbing two kickoffs. Mandell can punt but his shaky place kicking means that Brett Maher (who hit 46 and 44 yard field goals while missing from an absurd 62) will be the man Week One.

This being a Ticats pre-season game, there were some injuries. Defensive back Chris Davis, who started the game at corner after three other guys went down during camp, suffered a head injury, as did receiver Tiquan Underwood. Defensive end Ricky Osei-Kusi went down with a knee injury while running back Da’Rel Scott appeared to hurt his arm.

This being a CFL pre-season game, the officiating was, shall we say, suspect. There were an excruciating number of penalties called and endless conferences slowed the game considerably. An early whistle cost the Ticats a defensive touchdown and head coach Kent Austin was hot after a number of late and/or high hits on Hamilton quarterbacks.

CFL rosters must be set by Sunday at noon but the Ticats will likely make their cuts before that, as they must be ready to open the season against Toronto next Thursday at BMO Field.

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