- FREE AGENCY
HAMILTON — “I told him earlier in the week, I want a game where it’s 21-0 in the game at the end of the first quarter,” Luke Tasker said as he sat next to Jeremiah Masoli during their post-game interview after defeating the BC Lions 48-8 in the Eastern Semi-Final.
The first quarter ended 14-0, so not quite the wish Tasker had set forth for him and the Ticats offence, but it was certainly on track to set up a successful evening for the Tabbies at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday.
“Coach kind of already knew what they were going to do,” Masoli said, referencing the gameplan that contributed to the Black and Gold’s convincing victory. “He had a great scheme. All of the credit goes to him.”
By the end of the game, the Tiger-Cats had amassed 450 yards offensively, adding five offensive touchdowns as Jeremiah Masoli finished the day completing 14 of 19 pass attempts and passing for 259 yards.
It made for quite the performance after Masoli was named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Player nominee, doing nothing but aiding to the argument as to whether he’ll be named the league’s MOP at the Shaw CFL Awards being held during Grey Cup Week in Edmonton.
“We’re feeling good, we’re all feeling good,” Masoli said.
The win comes as the Tiger-Cats have had to face their criticism, despite the plague of injuries running through their receiving corps since the start of the season. As a result, Luke Tasker was the last man standing from a receiving group that’s had Brandon Banks, Jalen Saunders, and Terrence Toliver all fall to injury and unavailable for Sunday’s tilt.
But as Tasker states, every player inside the locker room has bought into the culture which head coach June Jones has been preaching in putting trust into the system.
“People buy in,” he said. “We’ve bought into our offence, the defensive guys have bought in with Jerry, and we have good leadership: Larry, Simoni, Masoli, Filer. This week… we had a lot of things that brought us together this week in terms of the leadership. Guys saying things about what the playoffs mean, guy’s who’ve been there before. Guys buy in, man. We were ready to win this game today.”
It was especially important for the Ticats to put the late-season struggles behind them as the post-season got underway.
“Getting over this hump, that first round was big for us and winning the way that we did,” Masoli said. “To have another opportunity to play again against a team that’s beat us three times, just to have that opportunity to beat them, and prove that we can beat them is huge for us.”
It marked a big game for the Ticats, especially in the playoffs where both Masoli and Tasker had been members of both Hamilton team’s which made it to back-to-back Grey Cups in 2013 and 2014.
“We haven’t had a game playing like this in the playoffs,” Tasker said. “That was really something. To go now to the capital off of a springboard like this game, we feel good. I already know we’re going to have a good week of practice.”
Despite losing to the REDBLACKS in each of the three matchups against them this season, Tasker believes there were some positive perspectives from their Week 19 tilt in the nation’s capital.
“Of the three times we’ve played them this year, the best game was maybe when we went to Ottawa and we got up by 16 on them, and then we made mistakes left and right, and I feel we stopped playing good football at some point there,” Tasker said. “Our mistakes and penalties got the better of us. I think we know how to play good; our leaders and gameplan is going to spot on. It’s going to be a great game.”
As for Sunday’s big win, a win of any magnitude is worth celebrating, especially when your team puts up the number of points that Hamilton did against the Lions, but it still marks just one step to the ultimate goal for the Tiger-Cats during this playoff run.
“If you don’t win the Grey Cup, it’s just for not,” Masoli said.