Hamilton Tiger-Cats fumble way to 0-4 start, as Ford wins first start for Elks


Published July 1, 2022 at 11:01 pm

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, coach Orlondo Steinauer and quarterback Dane Evans head into a bye week dogged by another blown double-digit lead and that donut in the win column.

This time around, Hamilton (0-4) blinked in a Canada Day basement bowl against the previously winless Edmonton Elks, allowing 17 points off of turnovers in a 29-25 defeat at Tim Hortons Field on Friday. That included the decisive touchdown with 1:38 left, when Evans had a fumble forced by Elks safety Scott Hutter. Elks defensive back Jalen Collins returned the fumble 14 yards for a touchdown to give Edmonton (1-3) its only lead, and ultimately help give rookie quarterback Tre Ford a win in the Niagara Falls’s native’s first start.

Ford, who had tried only three passes in as many games before getting the starting nod, showed glimpses of why he is the highest-drafted Canadian quarterback to enter the CFL since 1980. The 24-year-old Hec Crighton Trophy winner was 15-of-26 for 159 yards with a 1-to-1 touchdown/INT ratio, and added six rushes for a game-most 61 yards.

No Canadian quarterback had started for Edmonton since Frank Cosentino, a Hamilton native, did so in 1968.

Following Collins’ go-ahead scoop-and-score, Evans drove the Tiger-Cats as far as the Elks’ 29-yard line in the final 30 seconds. Hamilton stalled there, as a third-down pass sailed beyond the reach of wide receiver Tyler Ternowski in the end zone.

The upshot for Hamilton is that an 18-game Canadian Football League regular season gives teams time to recover. No other East Division team has more than one win. Hamilton is also off until a July 16 home game against the Ottawa Redblacks (0-3) and Jeremiah Masoli, the ex-Ticats quarterback.

However, Hamilton has yet to show it can close out an opponent, and few teams can outplay turnovers. The Tiger-Cats have been outscored in every third and fourth quarter so far and 13 of their 15 turnovers have come after halftime. The turnover tally includes back-to-back interceptions charged to Evans in Hamilton’s zone that helped get Edmonton back into the game on Friday. Both passes ricocheted off of Tiger-Cats receivers.

Linebacker Brady Sheldon made the first INT with 1:41 left in the third quarter after the ball bounced off of Sean Thomas Erlington. That set up Edmonton on the 30-yard line. The Tiger-Cats limited the damage to a field goal, cutting their lead to 22-15.

On the next Hamilton possession, a pass from Evans went off the fingers of wide receiver Papi White and Elks linebacker Michael Thomas intercepted to create another short field for Ford. The rookie tied the game five plays later with his first CFL touchdown pass, a 10-yard strike to Kenny Lawler.

Evans was 20-of-31 passing for 197 yards, one touchdown and the aforementioned two interceptions. The veteran passer was playing behind an offensive line that had three new starters, with Colin Kelly starting at left tackle just four days after coming in through a trade with Edmonton. The reworked line, with Brandon Revenberg back in his left guard spot, did clear the way for a season-high 105 rushing yards.

Tim White had a game-most 81 receiving yards, catching 5-of-7 targets, and Steven Dunbar added 51 yards and a TD by snaring 3-of-5. Lawrence Woods delivered a special teams touchdown when he housed a 72-yard kickoff return. Kicker Michael Domagala, a St. Catharines native, was 3-of-4 on field goals. The miss was a 54-yard attempt.

Lawler led the Edmonton receivers with 43 yards, catching all four of his targets. Sergio Castillo was 2-of-3 on field goals, with a missed 59-yard attempt that went for a single.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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