Ticats, Lawrence put boots to Calgary; Hamilton now 3-3

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Published September 17, 2021 at 9:46 pm

Simoni Lawrence put the Hamilton Tiger-Cats ahead to stay with a defensive touchdown on Friday. (Hamilton Tiger-Cats photo)

Simoni Lawrence’s pick-six touchdown and a reliable kicking game did the heavy lifting on Friday to raise the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to .500.

With third-string quarterback David Watford behind centre on one side of the ball, Lawrence and the defence won the day in a 23-17 victory against the Calgary Stampeders at Tim Hortons Field. Hamilton (3-3) stayed in position to be even with the Toronto Argonauts for the lead in the East Division of the CFL, since the Argonauts (3-2) were road underdogs against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the other CFL contest on Friday (Sept. 17).

Hamilton’s offence failed to get in the end zone, with American kicker Taylor Bertolet kicking five field goals. Lawrence’s 15-yard interception-return touchdown turned the tide midway through the third quarter.

Calgary was backed up in a second-and-long situation inside its 10-yard line midway through the third quarter with a slim 10-9 lead. A pass from quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell ricocheted off receiver Luther Hakunavanhu.
Lawrence, the eight-year veteran linebacker, snagged the ball, wriggled out of a tackle, picked up a block from cornerback Cariel Brooks on Calgary lineman Nila Kasitati and crossed the goal line upright.

After a two-point convert run by Maleek Irons, the Tiger-Cats led 17-10. Bertolet’s last two field goals stretched the lead to 13 before Calgary scored a touchdown with 16 seconds left.

Calgary (2-5) failed to make a first down on its next three possessions after Lawrence’s touchdown. Their only play in Hamilton territory before the game was out of reach was a failed third-down gamble at the Tiger-Cats’ 51-yard line. Defensive end Mason Bennett stopped the Stampeders’ Ka’Deem Carey for no gain to force a turnover on downs.

Watford, pressed into starting after Dane Evans was injured at Toronto on Sept. 10, was 19-of-22 passing for 149 yards. He also led Hamilton’s ground game with 10 rushes for 35 yards. Tim White was Hamilton’s leading receiver, catching all six of his targets for 40 yards.

Bertolet was 5-for-5 on field goals, with a long of 49 yareds. He was activated this week after rookie Michael Domagala missed a game-tying convert against Toronto on Sept. 10. Domagala averaged 40.4 yards on punts on Friday.

The Tiger-Cats offensive line allowed four sacks in the Toronto loss. On Friday, it gave up just two, both to Calgary’s Shawn Lemon.

On the Calgary side, Mitchell was 16-of-28 for 170 yards with no touchdowns and one tipped interception. Backup Jake Maier was 9-for-9 for 80 yards and one TD in a relief stint, and rushed for Calgary’s other touchdown.

Hakunavanhu had a game-most 88 receiving yards, catching 4-of-5 targets. Rene Paredes added two converts and made his only field-goal try.

Hamilton will have a short week before an away game against the reeling Ottawa Redblacks (1-4) on Wednesday (Sept. 22). Hamilton is listed as a 10½-point favourite in spite of being both the road team and less rested side.

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