Head coach June Jones’ decision to kick a punt single instead of attempt a 44-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter cost the Hamilton Tiger-Cats dearly in a 35-32 double overtime loss to the B.C. Lions on Saturday night.
With the Ticats leading by seven with just under a minute remaining in the game, Jones decided not to let kicker Lirim Hajrullahu attempt the three-point kick that would have given the team a 10-point lead – one requiring two possessions to overcome. Instead, Hajrullahu appeared to deliberately punt the ball into the end zone for the single point, which also gave the Lions the ball at the 35-yard line – much-needed field position with time at a premium.
The Ticats defence gave up 75-yards of real estate in five plays, including a 20-yard pass from Jon Jennings to Bryan Burnham with zeros on the clock. Burnham then caught the two-point conversion, just getting his toe in bounds according to a replay review that initially overturned the call on the field. That tied the game at 29 and sent it to overtime.
Hamilton still had a chance to win in the extra frame after the Lions were limited to a field goal on their first possession. Needing a touchdown to salvage a victory, Jones opted for a field goal when faced with third down and just over a yard from the B.C. six-yard line. Hajrullahu made the kick but the Lions won the second mini-game when he missed a 42-yarder and B.C.’s Ty Long connected from 39.
Coming into the game, Hajrullahu had been good on 30 of 35 field goal attempts, including 12 of 14 from between 40 and 49 yards and a perfect four-for-four beyond the 50. He went three of five on Saturday, including two misses from 42 yards.
After the game, Jones attempted to explain the decision to forego the field goal.
“You got that much time, you’re going to win the game right?” Jones told Ticats TV. “Who thinks they’re going to go touchdown and two-point conversion?”
Needless to say, Hamilton and CFL fans who stayed up late to watch the game were apoplectic over the decision and took to Twitter to say so.
June Jones makes some of the worst coaching decisions I’ve ever seen in my life
— Cameron Fedirko (@c_fedirko) September 23, 2018
@Ticats how absolutely stupid is June Jones? He did everything to let BC win.
— Sully (@Sullyvanov) September 23, 2018
@Ticats June Jones owes the Hamilton fans a public apology. That was a high school coaches mistake.
— rt (@taykmr) September 23, 2018
I’m so angry right now. June Jones better take all the blame for this loss. #TiCats
— Rob Hayes (@RobHayes63) September 23, 2018
— Banda! (@Leafer93Jeff) September 23, 2018
And there were plenty more – many too profane to reprint.
The loss was a costly one. Now 6-7, the Ticats are two games behind the Ottawa Redblacks, who beat the Edmonton Eskimos earlier Saturday, for first in the East Division. Ottawa and Hamilton have two games remaining, though the Redblacks already have one win over the Ticats in the season series.