WINNIPEG – Onrea Jones recorded one of three Tiger-Cats touchdowns as Hamilton defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 37-18 at Investors Group Field Friday night in the first of back-to-back meetings between the two Eastern rivals.
Friday marked the first time the Bombers hit the field following a two-week period full of change where they saw their General Manager and President replaced. Also replaced was Justin Goltz after a two-game stint as starter and Max Hall took the helm under centre, making his debut in front of the Investors Group Field gathering.
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A star at Brigham Young University, Hall sits second in his school’s history in passing with 11,569 career yards (behind only Ty Detmer).
Hall finished finished 18 of 30 for 241 with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in the loss.
It didn’t take long for Henry Burris and the Hamilton offence to get going, putting points on the board on their first two possessions.
The Ticats first got on the board with a 41-yard Luca Congi field goal off a 7-play, 46-yard drive by Burris.
They followed up with an impressive 101-yard touchdown drive, working out of the depths of their own end – finished with a 1-yard pass from QB Dan LeFevour to John Delahunt. The rookie fullback’s second major of the season gave the Tiger-Cats a 10-0 first quarter lead.
Aiding the Ticats offence even more was the return of Andy Fantuz who caught 10 balls for 155 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 but was slowed to a walking pace after suffering a hamstring injury in practice just days later.
It took until the midway point of the second quarter but Hall and the Bombers finally found their footing.
Pinned in their own end, Hall engineered an impressive 13-play, 104-yard touchdown drive which was aided by two pass interference calls.
He connected with WR Rory Kohlert with 8:37 remaining for a 6-yard touchdown and cut the Hamilton lead to 10-7.
Hamilton would quickly regain their 10-point advantage however. Two possessions following the Winnipeg score, Burris connected with SB Samuel Giguere for 40 yards before throwing a strike to WR Onrea Jones for a 25-yard touchdown.
They would retain a 17-7 road lead heading into halftime.
Both defences forced their oppositions to punt the ball for the majority of the third quarter before Hamilton followed up a 37-yard Congi field goal with a touchdown drive that would increase the lead to 24-7.
|Bombers call on Hall|
Max Hall, who entered the season third on the Bombers depth chart, made his first CFL start and finished 18 of 30 for 241 with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in the loss.
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Burris led a 7-play, 60-yard possession that was finished off by a LeFevour 1-yard touchdown sneak.
Bombers punter Mike Renaud earned Winnipeg a single point to open the fourth quarter before Hall found Terrence Edwards down field on the next possession for the Blue and Gold’s biggest gain of the night. Edwards hauled in a pass, rolled off a defender who thought he had tackled the veteran receiver, and turned up field for a 60-yard play bringing Winnipeg inside the Hamilton 10 yard line.
They could only muster a 13-yard Sandro DeAngelis field goal two plays later however – cutting the lead to 24-11.
DeAngelis was signed mid-week as a free agent, taking over for Justin Palardy. The former Tiger-Cats kicker spent the majority of last season in Saskatchewan.
Field goals weren't going to be enough on this night though as every time the Bombers made a dent in the lead, Hamilton answered back.
Congi connected on a 46-yarder -- his longest of the season thus far -- to put the Tiger-Cats back up by 16.
Hamilton, rounding into form on both sides of the ball as the game went on, sealed up the game with just under 7 minutes remaining.
First, defensive back Courtney Stephen came on a safety blitz, forcing Hall to throw an interception to the waiting arms of Rico Murray.
Burris then put together a pair of first downs before running back C.J. Gable took a draw play through the teeth of the Winnipeg defence for a 15-yard touchdown to take a commanding 34-18 lead.
The Bombers added a late touchdown when LB Ian Wild picked up a Jones fumble and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.
Burris finished with 333 yards and a touchdown on 22 of 36 passing and spread the ball around to seven different receivers in the win.
The two teams will meet next Saturday afternoon (1:00 pm) in Guelph at Alumni Stadium.