HAMILTON – Henry Burris passed for over 400 yards and three touchdowns as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats took care of the Edmonton Eskimos with a 51-8 win at Ivor Wynne Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The matchup placed two veteran quarterbacks up against each other, both of which were looking to get their clubs back on track. Burris did just that, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers and commanding the offence as the ‘Cats put this contest away midway through the third quarter.
He finished with 418 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 of 33 passing.
A rouge would mark the game’s opening score with Grant Shaw’s 48-yard field goal attempt on Edmonton’s first drive had the distance but sailed wide left.
Henry Burris would lead the Ticats offence onto the field but the first two possession both started and ended the same way with a short draw play to tailback Avon Cobourne and then a conceded sack by the pivot on the second down. Cobourne continued to fill in for rookie RB Chevon Walker who has missed two of the last three games with an injury.
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Starting with good field position on their third drive, the Eskimos started to stretch the field early. Kerry Joseph escaped the pocket, bought himself some time and found veteran WR Fred Stamps behind the Ticats secondary for a 59-yard gain, leading to a 1-yard Jerome Messam touchdown plunge.
The Eskimos would take an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Messam joined Hugh Charles in the Edmonton backfield as the team decided to scratch Cory Boyd. Last week the Eskimos dressed all three tailbacks but head coach Kavis Reed admitted after the contest that there was some difficulty keeping all three in rhythm in the offence throughout the game.
The Ticats would then get their best field position of the quarter when Brandon Rutley took the ensuing kickoff back 53 yards to set up Hamilton inside Edmonton territory. Burris would string together two completions for a first down but the vaunted Eskimos defence would come up big on the following play forcing Chris Williams to fumble. The ball was recovered by the Eskimos.
Burris and the Hamilton offence would then start to heat up, generating an 11-play, 79-yard drive, leading the Black and Gold inside the Edmonton 5 yard line. The Eskimos defence would tighten up near their own goal line however, as they forced two incompletions and the ‘Cats would kick a 10-yard field goal to cut the lead to 8-3 at the beginning of the second quarter.
The ‘Cats would engineer another strong drive, highlighted by a 12-yard catch-and-run by Cobourne, and put three points on the board to pull within two.
They would take the lead as Congi hit his ninth straight from beyond 40 yards as his 45-yarder gave Hamilton a slim 9-8 lead.
The Eskimos seemed poised to re-gain the lead when newcomer Brody McKnight lined up for a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the half but the attempt was blocked and scooped up by Hamilton WR Bakari Grant who returned it 58 yards for a touchdown and a16-8 Ticats lead going into halftime. The kick was blocked by defensive back Dee Webb.
The touchdown capped off a very productive half for Grant who bounced back after a tough outing last week in Toronto to the tune of 4 receptions for 68 yards in the first 30 minutes.
The Tiger-Cats ended the first half with a big play and opened the second half with one as well. Burris dropped back and delivered an 87-yard bomb to Dave Stala for a major to open up a 23-8 Hamilton lead.
The Ticats looked to build on their advantage but Burris sailed a ball down field and picked off by Joe Burnett on the Eskimos’ 12 yard line. The interception was Burnett’s league-leading fifth of the season.
Edmonton would gamble on third down and just over a yard to go but a handoff to Messam was stuffed in the backfield by a ferocious Hamitlon front, forcing a 3-yard loss and a turnover on downs.
Burris and the offence would put an exclamation point on the clear momentum swing, hooking up with Andy Fantuz for a 21-yard touchdown on the next play to open up a gapping 30-8 lead.
That would seemingly signal the end of Joseph’s day as Steven Jyles, who started the year as the number one quarterback, entered the game with 5:53 left in the third quarter.
Burris would all but put the game out of reach on the next possession, finding Williams over the middle as the speedy pass-catcher turned up field and dragged tacklers into the endzone for a 25-yard major and a commanding 37-8 lead.
Jyles’ day would also come to an end after only one series as third-stringer Matt Nichols entered the game as the third quarter came to a close.
Nichols would lead a solid drive that would eventually stall with penalties, however, that was least of the young quarterback’s concerns. The pivot, who threw his first touchdown pass on a botched field goal attempt last week, was hit hard while carrying the ball down field and exited the game after visibly feeling the effects.
Joseph re-entered the game to start the fourth quarter. He could not solve a Tiger-Cats defence that had received its fair share of bad press in recent weeks but really came through on Saturday, frusterating the Edmonton offence all afternoon.
The Ticats would continue to run down the Eskimos defence, leading an impressive drive finished off by a 12-yard Cobourne scamper to take a 44-8 lead. The run would put Cobourne up over 100 yards on the day.
Jyles would re-enter to finish the game behind centre for the Eskimos.
The ‘Cats defence would solidify their effort when Webb jumped an arrant Jyles pass and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. Hamilton would shutout the Eskimos for the final three quarters of the contest.