Too many mistakes: Ticats fall 30-24 to Calgary

Against the good teams, it’s the little things that make all the difference. 

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats fell, 30-24, to the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday, despite getting strong performances from quarterback Zach Collaros and receiver Terrence Toliver, playing mostly solid defence and taking care of the football all night long

But they committed a whopping 14 penalties for 125 yards and made a series of small but critical errors: a blown coverage here, a dropped interception there, spotty special teams play. Against a perennial West Division powerhouse — Calgary has now won 10 straight against the Ticats — it just wasn’t good enough.

“We talked about it all week, we knew we were going to have to play a clean game to beat these guys,” said head coach Kent Austin. “Our guys played hard, they made plays but we just had too many mistakes”

It started early. The Stampeders registered the first big play of the game when they blocked at Brett Maher punt after the Ticats’ first offensive series and took over inside opposition territory. The Hamilton defence surrendered a couple of first downs but limited the damage to a Rene Paredes field goal.

The Ticats scored three touchdowns on the ensuing drive, with two of them called back because of penalty. The final one, a spectacular 21-yard toss from Collaros to Terrence Toliver, capped a 15-play drive that travelled 90 yards and gave the visitors a 7-3 lead.

It took Calgary exactly one play to respond as Bo Levi Mitchell threw a 76-yard touchdown bomb to DeVaris Daniels. They never trailed again. 

Special teams penalties, which have been an issue through much of the season, cost the Ticats again early in this game as they were flagged on each of their first three returns. Hamilton committed 11 infractions for 95 yards in the first half alone, while Calgary was called five times for 22 yards on the night.

Paredes’ two field goals in the last two minutes of the half gave the home side a 16-7 lead after 30 minutes.

After a Brett Maher field goal cut the Stampeders lead to six, Calgary responded with a long drive aided by two Hamilton penalties. Calgary running back Jerome Messam took it in from the two-yard line and former Ticat Bakari Grant added the two-point conversion to make 24-10 early in the fourth.

Paredes connected on his fourth of the night to make it a three score game and while a late Collaros-to Toliver touchdown made it interesting, a 50-yard Brandon Banks punt return that would have put the Ticats inside Calgary territory with under three to play was negated by … yep, a penalty.

The Ticats scored anyway on Collaros third touchdown pass of the night (to go along with 414 passing yards) but there was just 47 seconds left. Paredes canned a nervy 45 yarder with Banks waiting in the end zone and with just 18 seconds left, Hamilton’s last possession fell short.

“Again, we dug ourselves a hole. Too may two and outs for the offence, a couple of plays that I didn’t do a very good job on and you never know what plays are going to make the difference in the game,” Collaros said.

With the loss, Hamilton falls to 4-5 and remains in second place in the East Division, a point behind Ottawa. The Ticats begin a home-and-home series with the Toronto Argonauts starting with the Labour Day Classic on Sept. 5.

“The old cliche in the CFL is that the season starts after Labour Day and we have a huge one coming up against Toronto,” Collaros said.

 NOTES: Toliver was the Ticats leading receiver for the second straight game with seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns. … Maher has now hit 17 straight field goals while Calgary’s Paredes ran his streak to 28 in a row. … Ticat scratches were defensive tackle Linden Gaydosh and running back Mercer Timmis. … Temperature at game time was 14 C with very little wind. … The last time the Ticats won in Calgary was July 4, 2004. … The game was broadcast on TSN with live microphones capturing sound from the quarterbacks and head coaches from both teams. … Attendance: 26,271.

Drew Edwards is the founder of 3DownNation but has since wandered off. Beard in the photo not exactly as shown.