HAMILTON — There was a moment that turned the tide for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Thursday night 23-17 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
In the third quarter, most eyes were on Frankie Williams and his electric 68-yard punt return touchdown, but there was a play just before that was key to the major score.
Defensive lineman Dylan Wynn, playing in his first game with the Tiger-Cats after signing with the team during training camp, sacked Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo on second and six on Saskatchewan’s 24-yard line. The next play Jon Ryan punted the ball to Williams and the speedster weaved his way down the field and into the end zone.
Along with the completed convert, the score put the Tabbies up 17-13, a lead that they would never relinquish.
“Obviously whenever special teams scores, it’s a huge deal,” quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said. “Those guys have been working their tails off in the meeting rooms trying to make sure that they get their schemes right and all that. I mean, you saw Frankie, it was awesome.”
“I think a sense of calmness, confidence,” head coach Orlondo Steinauer said when asked about Wynn and slash off-season acquisition Ja’Gared Davis’ first game as Ticats.
“They played like they’ve been there before. I think Ja’Gared Davis maybe had an offside penalty but other than that they weren’t the ones taking the penalties. They were a calming influence. They play hard. The thing is it’s infectious. They challenge the people around them to play to that level also.”
Wynn finished the game with five tackles to go along with his sack and Davis finished with a team-leading seven tackles.
Simoni Lawrence also got in on the strong defensive play to end the game. The veteran linebacker picked off Riders quarterback Isaac Harker when the Riders were driving down the field and knocking on the doorstep to start the fourth quarter. That stop on Hamilton’s five-yard line was essential to ending any momentum that had flipped in Saskatchewan’s favour. It also forced the Riders to kick a field goal cutting the Ticats lead to 23-17, which would be the final.
“That was a key part of the game,” Steinauer said of Lawrence’s interception. “That was a momentum thing. The other thing that you may not see out there on TV and those things is wind was a factor today. There was a little strategic thing going on out there between the coaches using more clock, or using less clock. To get an interception when, I believe, they had the wind at their back, was very important for us at that point in time.”
“I thought our defence really stepped it up in the second half with some big stops,” he continued. “And obviously a couple of nice, timely turnovers.”
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