Blackout mode: Ticats turn out the lights in East Final

Photo courtesy: Alex Lupul/

The Ticats turned off the lights on the Eskimos: blackout mode in full effect.

Hamilton’s defence terrorized the opposition, making it a dark day for everyone on the Edmonton sideline.

Trevor Harris was intercepted on his first series by Richard Leonard, a turnover that quickly led to a Lirim Hajrullahu field goal. Dylan Wynn forced a C.J. Gable fumble on Edmonton’s next drive, setting up a two-yard touchdown run from David Watford. Hajrullahu put through another field goal with the wind to make the score 13-0 after the first quarter.

It seemed Edmonton could be poised for a comeback after Harris threw a touchdown pass to DaVaris Daniels, but the black and gold struck back. Dane Evans moved to his right and ripped a deep ball to Brandon Banks for a spectacular diving catch in the end zone and a 47-yard touchdown.

The sold out crowd of 25,177 at Tim Hortons Field — dressed for the blackout — went off after Banks hit pay dirt. Tailgaters were out before the sun was up in Steeltown as the entire city turned black for the East Final.

Banks’ major helped put the Ticats ahead 23-13 at the break. During the regular season Hamilton was 11-2 when leading at halftime with both losses occurring on the road against Montreal and Calgary.

Harris tried to hold off the inevitable for the Eskimos, finding Daniels for 30 yards down the sideline late in the third quarter. Edmonton crossed midfield but the drive was halted when Julian Howsare tipped a pass and Justin Tuggle intercepted the deflected ball.

Harris completed 29-of-41 passes for 319 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions with a 70.7 completion rate. He also carried the ball seven times for 26 yards — uncharacteristically as Harris was moved off his spot in the pocket.

Hamilton’s defence mixed up coverage looks and pressured Harris consistently throughout the ball game. Mark Washington’s unit finished the game with three sacks and three takeaways, helping provide the offence with plus field position. Harris’ completion percentage was high, but many of his throws were underneath as Hamilton rallied to the football and tackled well.

Speedy B provided the final curtain call, hauling in a 26-yard gain midway through the fourth quarter. It set-up the game-clinching touchdown while moving Banks beyond the 100-yard mark on the day.

Evans had his parents Damon and Kathy in the stands to witness his first CFL playoff start. The 25-year-old was ultra-productive with his 21 completions going for 386 yards and a score. Addison and Banks led the air attack, combining for 11 receptions and 230 yards.

Just as the shadows grew and darkness loomed, the Ticats flicked the switch: lights out.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.