Hamilton hoping to keep pace in East Division title race

Oct 15, 2014 - 3:40 PM Hamilton, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Locked in a three-way tie for first place in the East Division standings, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats turn their attention towards the latest addition to the CFL, the Ottawa RedBlacks, as the squads clash on Friday night at Tim Hortons Field.

Hamilton, which is locked up with both Montreal and Toronto with 12 points in the East, was one of the hottest teams in the league heading into play last week but lost a golden opportunity to assume control in the division. On the road against Toronto, Hamilton led by double digits early on but ended up suffering a narrow 34-33 defeat, snapping a four-game win streak in the process.

Zach Collaros played a spirited game for the Tiger-Cats, throwing for 302 yards, converting 23-of-32 passes, and two TDs of his own, not to mention a rushing TD in the second period, but the team still suffered the defeat. Kicker Justin Medlock, who saved Hamilton's bacon a week earlier, converted all four of his field goals and finished with 15 points in the losing cause.

The contest was plagued with penalties on both sides as the Argos dealt with 21 flags for a loss of 178 yards and Hamilton 19 infractions for another 153 yards.

As for the RedBlacks, one of the other teams also residing in the East Division, they were pitted against British Columbia in the early game last Saturday and barely showed any effort as they were saddled with the 41-3 loss at BC Place. Ottawa was shooting for back-to-back wins for the first time this season, but instead was left with a 10th defeat in 11 opportunities instead.

Outside of a 34-yard field goal by Brett Maher late in the second quarter, there was little for the RedBlacks to cheer about as they amassed just 12 first downs and 243 yards of total offense. The squad was charged with 10 penalties for a loss of 94 yards, defeating any real efforts the RedBlacks may have been able to put together.

Henry Burris converted just 12-of-21 passes for 143 yards and was sacked once before Danny O'Brien was brought on to complete a mere 2-of-7 attempts for 15 yards and an interception.

The defense for the RedBlacks was on the field for 87 plays and gave up 548 yards of offense to the Lions. After 14 games it should come as little surprise that the Ottawa defense is by far the most lenient, permitting 383.8 ypg, which is just under 50 ypg more than any other program in the league this season. In comparison, Hamilton is giving up 310.8 ypg, third-best in the CFL entering play this week.

Burris has tried desperately to make the RedBlacks a competitive entity, throwing for 3,142 yards and completing 62.1 percent of his throws, but without a strong supporting cast it is easy to see why he has just as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns. As a team, Ottawa's passing attack is last in the league with just 11 aerial majors.

Hamilton is again at the other end of the spectrum as far as passing is concerned, coming in needing only 108 yards to reach 4,000 for the season. However, even with a 65.2 percent completion rate for the team overall, the Tiger-Cats are still showing only 14 TDs and 13 INTs.

Although the RedBlacks are new to the CFL this season, there have been previous teams in the league that have called Ottawa home, which is why the history between that city and the Tiger-Cats is so lengthy. Taking into consideration only regular-season bouts dating back to 1950, Hamilton owns a 96-69 advantage over Ottawa.

The 'Cats have won two straight and five of the last seven encounters, including a 33-23 triumph at home back in late July. In that meeting, Burris threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the visitors, while Dan LeFevour directed Hamilton with 361 yards through the air and another 109 on the ground, resulting in two majors for the hosts.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!