Hamilton Tiger-Cats get big win by a Small margin

Published October 8, 2022 at 12:01 am

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats re-signed national offensive lineman Jesse Gibbon. (Ticats.ca photo)

Seth Small booted four field goals to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a crucial 18-14 home win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night.

Small’s 29-yard field goal at 12:43 of the fourth quarter staked Hamilton to its four-point lead. It capped a 71-yard, 14-play drive that took 7:38 off the clock.

Saskatchewan had the ball at its 42-yard line with 2:09 remaining and drove to the Hamilton 45 before Cody Fajardo’s third-down pass was incomplete with 1:21 remaining. The Riders got the ball back at their own 23-yard line with 23 seconds to play but Fajardo was intercepted at the Ticats’ 26-yard line by Ciante Evans.

Hamilton (5-10) remained third in the East Division but moved to within a victory of Saskatchewan (6-10), which is fourth in the West Division. If the Riders end the regular season with more wins than the Ticats, they’ll assume the third and final Eastern Conference playoff seed.

Hamilton will face the Calgary Stampeders next week before finishing its regular season with a home-and-home series with the Ottawa Redblacks. Saskatchewan, which has lost five straight games, heads into a bye week before ending its regular season facing the Stamps in a home-and-home.

Dane Evans scored Hamilton’s touchdown, although he was 11-of-24 passing for 214 yards with two interceptions. Wes Hills had 25 rushes for a season-high 132 yards. Anthony Johnson, playing in just his second game this season after being out for nearly three months with a wrist injury, made three receptions for a team-most 91 yards.

The Tiger-Cats defence stepped up with seven sacks, including three from defensive end Malik Carney. Mohamed Diallo, Vosean Joseph, Micah Johnson and Julian Howsare also got home to take down Fajardo for sacks.

Fajardo was 24-of-31 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, but also tossed two interceptions. Kian Schaffer-Baker (six receptions, 93 yards) and Justin McInnis (4-39) had Saskatchewan’s touchdowns. Brett Lauther added the converts.

Hamilton appeared to get a safety early in the fourth when Fajardo was called for intentional grounding while in the end zone. But he was ruled to have been just past the goal line but then Jovan Santos-Knox was called for objectionable conduct, giving the Riders a second-and-seven situation they converted.

Shortly afterwards, Johnson took an objectionable conduct penalty, giving Saskatchewan a first down at its 46-yard line.

Hamilton took the wind to start the second half and managed two Small field goals for a 15-14 lead heading into the fourth. Small hit from 30 yards out at 14:03 after connecting from 42 yards out at 4:33.

The Riders led 14-9 at halftime as the second quarter ended with a bizarre play.

After a three-yard boot, Saskatchewan punter Kaare Vedvik tried kicking the loose ball. He got just enough to bounce it off a Ticat before Riders linebacker Jordan Herdman-Reed recovered at the visitors’ 42-yard line at 14:59. Had Hamilton recovered, the Ticats could’ve attempted a late field goal.

Small’s 40-yard field goal at 10:17 cut Saskatchewan’s lead to 14-9 as the Riders rode a successful challenge and special-teams turnover to their advantage.

Fajardo put Saskatchewan ahead 14-6 with a nine-yard touchdown pass to McInnis at 5:10. It was set up by Blace Brown’s block of Michael Domagala’s punt that put the Riders at the Hamilton 13-yard line.

Evans’ one-yard TD run at 11:07 of the first against the wind pulled Hamilton to within 7-6 as Small missed the convert. Evans capped a 56-yard, four-play drive in response to Saskatchewan’s scoring drive.

Fajardo’s 10-yard TD strike to Schaffer-Baker opened the scoring at 8:47. The most decisive point in the seven-play, 77-yard drive was Saskatchewan’s successful challenge when faced with punting, resulting in a face mask call against Hamilton’s Tunde Adeleke that allowed the Riders to keep the ball.

— Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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