Brett Maher’s foot carries Redblacks to win over Ticats; Hamilton still winless

Ottawa Redblacks kicker Brett Maher kept putting points on the board even as his team’s drives were stalling against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night.

He kicked six straight field goals to give Ottawa an 18-10 lead midway through the third until they finally found the end zone, winning 37-18 in front of a Tim Hortons Field crowd of 23,524.

“You always want to cash in with touchdowns,” said head coach Rick Campbell. “But if you’re not doing that, those points add up. Six of those suckers makes 18 and so Brett made some really big kicks, especially those long ones.”

Maher hit five field goals in the first half, from 10, 15, 42, 52, and 48 yards out, and added a 30-yarder in the second. He also missed one convert and had another blocked, both against the wind.

“It’s just about being ready to go when your number’s called,” said Maher. “It’s a little bit out of the ordinary because it doesn’t always happen that way. I was just trying to do my part to help us get this thing turned around.”

Ottawa improves to 2-6-1 with its first road win of the season and sits third in the East. Campbell said it will help their “psyche” to finally close out a win in the fourth quarter. Their losses to this point had all been within seven points. Hamilton, meanwhile, falls to 0-8 heading into a bye week.

Redblacks QB Trevor Harris completed 36-of-48 pass attempts for 394 yards and two touchdown passes.

“It was just us executing,” said Harris about how they finally scored a TD, a 35-yard pass to Greg Ellingson to end the third, to break the game open. “And that’s all it was in the first half, penalties or a lack of execution. And again shooting ourselves in the foot. But it’s good we were making mistakes like that when we were in field-goal range as opposed to our own territory and turning the ball over.”

Hamilton kicker Sergio Castillo hit his lone field-goal attempt from 43 yards.

Ellingson, Avery Ellis, and Jake Harty scored touchdowns for Ottawa. Luke Tasker and Brandon Banks scored for Hamilton.

Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros completed 9-of-17 pass attempts for 102 yards, one TD and a costly fumble returned by Ellis for a score to start the fourth. He was then replaced by Jeremiah Masoli. This was Collaros’s 12th-straight loss as a starter, dating back to last season. The CFL record is 13, held by Lynn Amedee (Edmonton, 1963-4). Masoli completed seven of 12 for 68 yards.

Ottawa had 418 yards net offence to Hamilton’s 206.

The Redblacks took a 15-10 halftime lead on the strength of Maher’s foot.

His 30-yarder midway through the third extended the lead to 18-10.

The Ticats got the crowd on their feet next possession when backup QB Masoli came in at second-and-one and looked to have hit a streaking Banks with a 57-yard TD pass, but the receiver bobbled the ball and it came back.

The Redblacks finally found the end zone to end the third, putting together an 82-yard drive as Harris hit Ellingson for the 25-10 lead.

Collaros fumbled the ball on Hamilton’s next possession, and it was recovered by Ellis and run back 29 yards for the TD. Ticat defensive back Courtney Stephen blocked Maher’s convert attempt and ran it back for two points to cut the lead to 31-12.

Hamilton head coach Kent Austin said those three series in a row changed the game. And he’s seen that pattern happen all season.

“Those are the series we have been talking about,” he said. “We’ve got to find (a way) to eliminate (those) and make more plays,” Austin said.

Masoli replaced Collaros for Hamilton and led a 48-yard scoring drive ending with a one-yard TD run by Banks midway through the fourth. The two-point convert failed. It was 31-18.

Ottawa sealed the win with a 61-yard drive that ate up 3:38 and ended with a three-yard TD pass to Harty with 2:38 left in the game. With the missed convert it was 37-18.