Ticats win showdown in Steeltown, but Jeremiah Masoli suffers setback

Jeremiah Masoli played a key role in staking the Ticats to a lead Hamilton hammered home but not without being hit by potential disaster.

After the opening kick-off, Masoli led an eight-play, 76-yard drive capped by his own 22-yard touchdown run which put the Tabbies ahead 6-0.

On the ensuing Winnipeg drive, Jumal Rolle intercepted Matt Nichols and returned it 45 yards to the one-yard line. Dane Evans came in for the QB sneak touchdown, Masoli added a two-point convert completion and it was 14-0 Ticats.

But the next time Hamilton touched the ball Masoli hit the turf in pain. The Ticats No. 1 pivot suffered a non-contact injury and did not return to the game. He had completed 6-of-7 passes for 59 yards with one interception and two carries for 23 yards and a touchdown. Masoli walked out of the locker room in street clothes with a knee brace on to support his team from the sideline for the rest of the game.

“He’s going to get some further imaging in the morning. We’ll know in the morning right away,” Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer said after the game.

“Jeremiah doesn’t need practice, if it’s something he can get through he doesn’t need to be out there. Meaning if he didn’t practice days one, two, three he’s still able to run the offence.”

Following the shock of Masoli suffering a setback, the extent is to be determined, Evans entered the contest. Evans has been with the Ticats since 2018 and appeared comfortable in Tommy Condell’s offensive scheme in Week 2 when put into action in the blowout win versus Toronto, completing 5-of-6 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown.

Winnipeg’s quarterback pumped some lift into the blue and gold with a 25-yard touchdown connection to Darvin Adams. That put the Bombers on the board. At the break Winnipeg trailed 17-9. And the visitors lost Adams to a lower body injury for the rest of the game.

Hamilton’s defence inflicted punishment on Nichols and slowed the highest scoring offence in the league. Even though the Ticats were short Simoni Lawrence, serving the first of his two game suspension, the unit was stingy allowing just 15 points and forced seven turnovers, including intercepting Nichols three times.

Entering the matchup, Nichols had been picked off just on time with a ridiculous 12-1 touchdown-interception ratio. Overall Nichols finished 20-of-33 for 205 yards, the worst rating for any game he’s played in so far in 2019.

Evans turned out to be the counterpart on the other side of Nichols. He positioned the Ticats for three field goals to increase an advantage the black and gold would hold for victory. Evans made good on 13-of-25 for 94 yards and one interception.

Combined with the tough defensive effort the Ticats were able to win their fourth straight games at home for the first time since 2014. Hamilton ensured there were no more unbeaten teams in the CFL by earning a 23-15 decision.

The Ticats sit atop the East Division, but all the focus will be on the extent of Masoli’s injury.

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