Ticats’ D-line dominates Als in Eastern Semi-Final win
HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ defensive line wreaked havoc on the Montreal Alouettes’ offence in their 23-12 Eastern Semi-Final win.
Holding the CFL’s leading rusher, Willam Stanback, to just 29 yards on the ground was not the Ticats’ only defensive achievement. On top of negating the Als’ ability to run the ball, Hamilton was also able to disrupt the Als’ passing game manned by Trevor Harris.
Being hauled down six times on the afternoon with Dylan Wynn, Jovan Santos-Knox, Julian Howsare and Ja’Gared Davis all finding their way into the Als’ backfield, Harris was uncomfortable in the pocket. With pressure collapsing around him, Harris tossed one interception to Stavros Katsantonis during the Als’ last drive of the second quarter.
Given the way he and his teammates were able to affect the game, Davis credited their preparation to their performance.
“Stanback went down as the best back this year so we just knew they were going to come out and be physical and try to establish the run,” said Davis to the media. “We just took it upon ourselves so that when we take over the game, everything else would take care of itself and luckily we did.”
In Davis’ eyes, the entire defence generated momentum which carried over to special teams and the offensive side of the ball.
“We all feed off each other,” said Davis. “Papi White making a 15-yard return is big for us; offence getting a first down, offence putting up points so our defence can get off the field. Everything is a momentum play so being able to go out there and generate momentum, no matter how it’s being done as long as it’s being done in our favour is something we can work with.”
Having played in four Grey Cups and being a veteran on the team, Davis knows this win was just one of the necessary steps the team needs to take before they can reach the mountain top.
“I’ve been in these shoes before,” said Davis. “Just knowing it’s not done – it’s just the beginning, it’s just one game. We came out and we did what we had to do to win. Every game isn’t going to be an easy win, every team isn’t going to lay down, it’s win or go home every week. The stakes are higher now than ever so my message is, ‘next play, refocus, be locked in and be ready for whatever comes because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what happens as long as we come out victorious.'”
Issuing the same sentiment as Davis, Julian Howsare, who has come into his own as a regular contributor on the defence who also recorded a sack and a fumble recovery, preached that it was a team effort on the line.
“It’s good to see the D-line play well and ball,” said Howsare. “We feed off each other. If Wynn makes a big play, I want to make a big play. J.G. (Davis) wants to make a big play, Ted Laurent wants to make a big play. We play well together and as competitors, we all want to make our plays, but at the same time we want to see each other do well.”
When asked about how he thought his defence played against Stanback, Orlondo Steinauer was critical of their performance early on but admired how they never wavered.
“Early, he (Stanback) had some big chunks,” Steinauer said to the media. “I think I saw a few runs of seven and nine and that sort of thing. Like I said coming into the game, ‘You’re not going to stop him. If they want to give him the ball, he’s going to get yards because he just falls forward.’ But I thought we did a good job after his initial runs of wrapping up. I thought we weren’t wrapping up consistently early. When you put yourself in a one-on-one tackle with him it’s going to be tough and I thought we were able to get multiple people to the football so that contributed.”
Next up for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is the Eastern Final against their QEW rival, the Toronto Argonauts, on December 5 at BMO Field.