Disastrous third quarter sinks Ticats against Riders

Two weeks ago, it was possible to make the argument that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats deserved better in their loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, having dominated every statistical category except the scoreboard.

In the re-match Thursday night, they got exactly what they deserved.

The Riders outscored the Ticats 21-3 in a disastrous third quarter for the home side who turned a 10-point halftime lead into a eight-point deficit on their way to an eventual 31-20 loss.

There was no record for Jeremiah Masoli either as the Hamilton quarterback fell short in his bid for a 10th straight 300-yard passing games.

There is no shortage of blame to go around. The Ticats offence looked indecisive and turnover-prone while the defence gave up big plays instead of making them. Special teams gave up a punt return touchdown and head coach June Jones made a couple of truly inexplicable calls.

Things started OK. After a turnover staked Saskatchewan to a 3-0 lead, Hamilton responded, starting a drive inside opposition territory for the first time all season and converting it into a John White touchdown run.

Field position wasn’t an issue on the Ticats next score as Frankie Williams made a couple of quick cuts then exploded down the field, taking a punt return 98 yards to pay dirt and 14-3 lead. Lirim Hajrullahu drained a 42 yarder with under a minute to play in the half to give the home side a 17-7 advantage at the break.

It didn’t last.

The Riders took the ball to open the second half and that paid dividends quickly when former Ticat Marcus Thigpen sprinted 80 yards for his second touchdown in as many games.

The Ticats then tried an ill advised and ineffective quick kick on third and 13 near midfield that went absolutely nowhere and the Riders turned that into yet another major, Brandon Bridge connecting with a wide open Namaan Roosevelt. The mistakes left to the Ticats visibly frustrated on the sidelines and the Riders with a 21-17 lead.

After a Hamilton field goal, more Saskatchewan fireworks, this time from Christion Jones via a 61 yard punt return for a touchdown that capped a truly awful 15 minutes.

The Riders extended their lead with a field goal early in the fourth and a Masoli fumble sealed it. His performance will undoubtedly get the Johnny Manziel talk started in earnest.

With the loss, the Ticats fall to 2-3 in their five game stretch against West Division opponents to start the season. They’ll face their first Eastern opponent next Saturday when they host the Ottawa Redblacks.

No matter who they play, they’ll need to better.

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