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HAMILTON – The Hamilton Tiger-Cats closed out their regular season stay at Ivor Wynne in fashion with a 28-18 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to keep their playoff hopes alive.
It was an emotional afternoon at Ivor Wynne as the ‘Cats hosted their final regular season game at the 84-year-old stadium.
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» Images: WPG at HAM
Both teams needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive as the East Division remained opened heading into Week 18.
The Cats kept their playoff hopes alive with the win but the Bombers post-season aspirations came to an end, eliminated from competing for the 100th Grey Cup in November.
With the likes of Montford, Mosca, McManus and Flutie in attendance – as a part of the club’s all-time team announced pre-game – the Hamilton offence struck first when Henry Burris found sophomore speedster Chris Williams on a crossing route for a 19-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
The first quarter major put Williams into a four-way tie for most touchdowns in a season by a Tiger-Cats with 15.
One element of Ticats football that has been as synonymous as the old stadium has been their steel tough defence over the decades. And this year`s edition made sure that the mantra hadn`t faded when Buck Pierce was hit while throwing and his fumble was picked up and run into the endzone by defensive end Greg Peach for another Hamilton major and an early 14-0 lead.
Even more concerning for the Blue Bombers was the health of Pierce, who appeared to have hurt his right shoulder on the play. He returned for a quick series before leaving the game and giving way to Joey Elliott.
The Cats meanwhile had an opportunity to add to their lead when Luca Congi lined up to attempt a field goal but Andy Fantuz bobbled the snap and the ball was booted into the endzone for a single point.
The scene was all too familiar for the veteran Canadian who`s hold slipped off the tee on a potential game-winning Congi attempt last week in Calgary.
Elliott seemed out of synch with his receivers on his first two drives back at the helm. The Bombers punted following his first series and he over threw a target on his second and picked off by Ticats defensive back Geoff Tisdale.
In need of a spark and with their season on the line, the Bombers elected to fake a third down punt with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. Punter Mike Renaud seemed to have a bit of a lane in front of him as he pursued the first down marker but stumbled and was tackled short for a turnover on downs.
The Ticats took advantage of the failed gamble as Burris found Fantuz in the back of the endzone to complete an 8-play, 69-yard drive and take a 22-0 lead.
If Pierce’s injury was not enough to cause concern for the Bombers, he was joined on the sidelines shortly after by both his running backs as Chad Simpson and Will Ford both left the game.
|The Final Wynne|
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats said farewell to the place they have called home for over 8 decades as the team prepares re-build the stadium for the 2014 season.
The two backs combined for 221 yards and a touchdown on the ground in a big win last week in Toronto.
The Bombers finally got on the board with six seconds left in the half when Justin Palardy hit a 22-yard field goal to cut the lead to 22-3.
The Ticats, who came on strong out of the gate, picked up where they left off earning the first score of the second half when Congi hit an 18-yard field goal. Hamilton didn’t have to go far, scrimmaging from the Winnipeg 30 yard line after WR Onrea Jones returned a punt 41 yards.
As for Elliot, he started to settle into a rhythm midway through the third quarter, leading an impressive 7-play, 53-yard drive finished off by a five yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper.
Veteran receiver Terrence Edwards went up over the 1,000-yards receiving mark for the fifth time in his career after hauling in an 11-yard pass from Elliott.
After that however, the Ticats defence shut down the Bombers down the stretch and Congi added a field goal to send the Ticats away from Ivor Wynne with the victory.