Ticats demolish Riders 53-7

He said, “Bring on a brand new renaissance
‘Cause I think I’m ready
Well, I’ve been shaking all night long
But my hands are steady”
– Three Pistols, The Tragically Hip

Welcome to the renaissance of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

After an uneven start to the 2016 season, Saturday night’s Ticats looked very much like the dominant club that stormed out of the gate last season, using a lethal combination of unstoppable offence and opportunistic defence to destroy the Saskatchewan Roughriders 53-7.

Quarterback Zach Collaros threw for 381 yards on 23 of 30 passing and five touchdowns in his second game back from the ACL injury that all but scuttled the 2015 campaign. The Ticat defence, intercepted Saskatchewan pivot Darian Durant five times on their way to generating seven turnovers.

After a season full of truly awful starts, the Ticats stormed out of the gate against the mostly hapless Riders. Collaros hit Chad Owens with a 24 yard pass on the first play from scrimmage – last week it was a fumble, the week before a pick six – as Hamilton posted a field goal on their opening drive.

They got some luck, too. Later in the opening quarter, a pass from Collaros ricocheted off a Riders defender into the arms of Andy Fantuz, who took it the rest of the way for a score.

There was more scoring. Collaros connecting with Brandon Banks on a spectacular 58-yard touchdown strike early in the second, hitting the speedy receiver in full flight and triggering a fun celebration that featured Banks leaping out of the starting blocks and breaking the tape after a sprint.

The Ticats defence came to play as well, registering two interceptions in the first half and breaking Darian Durant’s streak of completions without a pick at 323 (a CFL record.) Defensive end John Chick – who had some choice words for his former team this week – registered one of the team’s two sacks.

The second pick by defensive end Adrian Tracy snuffed out a promising Saskatchewan drive near the end of the second quarter and Collaros took advantage, connecting with Tolliver for a long gain then hitting Owens in the end zone with just a few ticks on the clock.

Halftime score: Ticats 27, Riders 4.

It was more of the same in the third. Saskatchewan managed a field goal on their opening possession and Hamilton responded with a Terrence Toliver touchdown catch. Another Rider trip into the red zone ended when Rico Murray picked off Durant for the third time on the night.

Yet another Ticats interception – they had five on the night after coming into the game with two on the season – set up a Collaros-to-Owens connection that extended the lead to 41-7.

A Rider safety, followed by a fumble from back up Saskatchewan quarterback Mitchell Gale led to another Brett Maher field goal.

Though the Ticats deserve full measure for the win and improve to 4-4, they’ll face a tougher test next week when they face the West Division leading Calgary Stampeders.

The Riders fall to 1-7 and the Ticats took to Twitter to mock the billboard Saskatchewan rented just a couple of blocks from Tim Hortons Field…

Notes: Attendance was 24,166, the 20th straight sell out since the opening of Tim Hortons Field.

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