GUELPH – Henry Burris passed for 375 yards and four touchdowns as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats earned a split in their mini-series with the BC Lions with a 37-29 win Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium in Guelph.
The Lions almost staged a late-fourth quarter comeback but the Tiger-Cats defence, which was after Travis Lulay all afternoon, held tough when it counted.
Burris had three 100-yard receivers as Andy Fantuz, CJ Gable and Greg Ellingson combined for 331 yards and had all four of Hamilton's scores.
In honour of their 1943 Grey Champion Hamilton Flying Wildcats, the home team was wearing retro red uniforms with white numbers and black and white stripes down the shoulders and sleeves.
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The ‘Flying Wildcats’ got on the board on their first possession as two strong romps by Gable set up a 29-yard Luca Congi field goal.
Their next possession didn’t go quite as well though as Burris threw a ball from the far hash only to have it intercepted by Lions defender Cord Parks. A Dave Stala facemask call and the Leos were set up just inside of midfield. The ‘Cats defence held though and forced BC to punt it back to the Hamilton 7 yard line.
The tipping of the field would work in BC’s favour as a quick stop forced Hamilton to concede a safety.
After Tim Brown brought the ensuing kickoff back 25 yards to midfield, Lulay moved the Leos down the field but the Tiger-Cats defence shored up inside the five yard line as the Lions settled for a 10-yard field goal.
The Lions were up 5-3 as the second quarter got underway. It was well off the pace these two teams were on a week ago when they combined for 55 points in a 29-26 BC win.
Hamilton would start to revert back to the offensive output from the game before, notching the first major of the game.
After Gable took a shovel 16 yards, Burris found Fantuz who hauled in the pass, broke a would-be tackle from DB Josh Bell and raced up field 37 yards for a touchdown and a 10-5 second-quarter lead. Fantuz’s second touchdown of the year capped off a 6-play, 75-yard drive by Burris and the ‘Cats.
They followed it up with another touchdown on their very next possession after forcing a two-and-out.
First, Burris found Fantuz for 31 yards and then Gable for 18 before lobbing a pass to a wide open Ellingson in the back of the endzone for the touchdown. Ellingson’s fifth TD of the season gave Hamilton a 17-5 lead.
The Lions seemed poised to grab their first major score of the game when they took the ball back at midfield with 50 seconds remaining in the second quarter but the Ticats defence held strong inside the 10 yard line and forced Paul McCallum to boot an 18 yard field goal.
The Cats took a 17-8 lead into halftime and did so off the strength of 101 yards receiving by Fantuz.
|Gable a Flyin' Wildcat|
CJ Gable had 157 combined yards and a touchdown as he, along with Andy Fantuz and Greg Ellingson, went over the 100-yard receiving mark on the day.
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Defensively, the Ticats continued to get at Lulay, forcing him to hit the deck on numerous occasions.
Many thought the Leos would make halftime adjustments but it was the Ticats who made changes, taking their offence from efficient to dominant as they came out on fire in the second half.
They put points up on their first three possessions of the half.
First, Burris dumped the ball off to Gable who continued his spectacular day by taking the pass down the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown. It finished off a 6-play, 70-yard drive.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Lulay found slotback Nick Moore but the ball was stripped and recovered by the Ticats.
Four plays later, Burris dropped in a perfect pass to Ellingson for his second touchdown of the game, this one from 23 yards out.
A 39-yard Congi field goal on the next drive, and the Ticats were up by a commanding 34-8 midway through the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter began, the Lions finally solved the Hamilton defence as Lulay engineered 7-play, 55-yard touchdown drive. Shawn Gore took a handoff on a sweep pattern to record a 1-yard rushing score.
It seemed to spark the Leos as their defence forced a stop and then Lulay went back to work on a five-play drive which resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass to Nick Moore to cut the Hamilton lead to 34-22.
Lulay continued to chip away at the lead and leaned on Moore. He spotted the slotback twice en route to a 6-play touchdown drive completed by a 15-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Taylor to cut the lead to 37-29 with just under two minutes remaining in the game.
A last-minute effort to tie the game fell short though and Hamilton hung on for the win.
Lulay finished with 324 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 of 43 passing. Moore was his favourite target, hauling in 12 catches and a touchdown on 149 yards receiving in the loss.
Next week, the Ticats open up another home-and-home series with a Western opponent as the Calgary Stampeders become the next in line.
The Lions meanwhile, host the Montreal Alouettes at BC Place.