Hamilton Tiger-Cats hit midpoint of season above .500 after Rolle-ing by Redblacks

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Published September 22, 2021 at 10:28 pm

WR Jaelon Acklin (left) and QB David Watford (right) of the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats celebrate during 2019 Tiger-Cats game. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are entering the second half of the season with a winning record.

Playing in a light rain in the nation’s capital, Hamilton (4-3) did enough to win against the hapless Ottawa Redblacks (1-5) to earn a 24-7 victory at TD Place stadium on Wednesday night. The defence pulled off a pick-six touchdown for the second game in a row, with cornerback Jumal Rolle racing 87 yards with an interception in the third quarter. In his second start behind centre, quarterback David Watford led an offence that avoided major mistakes.

The rare midweek game means the Tiger-Cats, under coach Orlondo Steinauer, have extra recovery and prep time before their next outing. Hamilton hosts the Montreal Alouettes in a 4 p.m. kickoff on Oct. 2. It will be the first home outing with new mandatory proof-of-vaccination requirements for entry.

The Tiger-Cats’ third phase, special teams, will have a bit to clean up over the next nine days. Taylor Bertolet was 3-for-6, with one single, on field goal attempts in the somewhat kicker-unfriendly conditions.

The punting unit allowed Ottawa’s lone touchdown when Devonte Dedmon scored on a 63-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter, although it also forced Dedmon to lose a fumble late in the contest.

Rookie punter Michael Domagala, of St. Catharines, did average 44.9 yards on the night. Domagala has experience with TD Place’s conditions, since his Carleton Ravens university team’s annual Panda Game rivalry matchup with the Ottawa Gee-Gees is played there.

Rolle’s return opened a 21-0 lead in the third quarter. Redblacks quarterback Dominique Davis suffered a hamstring injury on the play.

The Watford-helmed offence broke an 80-minute touchdown drought with a four-play, 74-yard march early in the second quarter. Jaelon Acklin, on a short pass, broke free for a 36-yard gain to the Redblacks’ 11. On the next play, Watford flicked a screen pass to Steven Dunbar Jr. for the score.

Watford was an interception-free 15-of-25 passing for 115 yards and one touchdown, as most of his completions were on safe, short throws underneath the coverage. He was sacked only once, and also had 11 rushes for a game-most 54 yards.

Acklin led Hamilton with 44 receiving yards, catching 2-of-3 targets.

Veteran linebacker Simoni Lawrence, who was named one of the CFL’s top performers after scoring on an interception return in a win last week against Calgary, also contributed a sack.

Ottawa, which has not won since its opener and is averaging a league-fewest 14.5 points per game, had little to show for its effort offensively.

Davis was 6-of-14 for 50 yards. Backup quarterback Matt Nichols was 7-of-10 for 68 in relief before also leaving with an injury, which left wide receiver Nate Behar to take Ottawa’s last offensive snaps of the night. Ottawa’s Timothy Flanders had 10 rushes for 53 yards.

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