RedBlacks hope to play spoiler in clash with Tiger-Cats

Oct 29, 2014 - 3:03 PM Ottawa, ON ( - The CFL offers up a treat on Halloween night, as the Ottawa RedBlacks attempt to trick the Hamilton Tiger-Cats when the two clubs get together at TD Place.

Ottawa, the newest addition to the CFL, has found its first season in the league to be quite the disaster. Heading into Week 19 action, the RedBlacks have but two wins in six opportunities, one of those coming by just a single point against Toronto very early on. More recently, the worst team in the CFL was dealt a 23-17 setback by Montreal last week, the team's third straight defeat since topping Winnipeg (42-20) earlier in the month.

The RedBlacks were their own worst enemy last Friday night as they turned the ball over five times, three on interceptions and two fumbles. Henry Burris converted 12-of-21 passes for just 110 yards, was sacked four times, intercepted once and tossed a pair of picks, while Danny O'Brien had his three completions go for 111 yards and a score, as well as an INT.

In addition to the many miscues with the ball, Ottawa was hit with 14 penalties for a loss of 143 yards, diminishing the fact that the team actually had more yards overall than Montreal (348-329).

As for the Tiger-Cats, there is still hope for a postseason appearance, even though they trail Montreal by two points in the East Division standings. Hamilton made it tough on itself by starting out the campaign with three straight defeats and six losses in seven tries, but managed to claw back into contention with a four-game win streak.

However, last weekend the 'Cats lost some traction by bowing to Toronto, 26-24, at Rogers Centre. The setback was the second in the last three games as Zach Collaros connected on 24-of-36 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns, but he was also intercepted once and sacked four times. Luke Tasker caught nine balls for a game-high 138 yards and a major, but even that effort was not enough to offset the fact that Hamilton fan for a grand total of just 12 yards on nine attempts.

The Tiger-Cats controlled the ball for a shade over 25 minutes, partly due to the fact that they were charged with 12 penalties for a loss of 117 yards, running 15 fewer plays than the Argonauts as a result. Had Hamilton pulled out the victory on the road, where they are now just 1-7, they would have secured a postseason spot, but now they need to play mistake-free football for the most part in order to make that happen.

Closing in on 40 years of age, Burris doesn't have much time left on the football field and he has probably aged quite a bit (figuratively) given how difficult the 2014 campaign has been. As someone who has thrown for almost 55,000 yards in his career, the previous two seasons having been spent with the Tiger-Cats, Burris is experiencing one of his worst CFL seasons, due partly to the cast surrounding him.

Burris has an efficiency rating of only 80.3, throwing for just 10 TDs against 11 INTs. He has managed to complete 61.3 percent of his attempts, but so few of those have been monumental gains.

Wide receiver Marcus Henry, who spent his previous three seasons with Edmonton, is his top option with 66 catches for 804 yards, but he has landed in the end zone only twice. Wallace Miles, responsible for just 40 grabs, has turned those into 601 yards and four scores.

Over on the Hamilton side, Tasker has emerged as the go-to receiver for Collaros these days with his 62 receptions for 795 yards and five TDs.

On the ground, the 'Cats managed to pick up a disgruntled Nic Grigsby from Winnipeg just a few days ago, so now they have one of the top running backs in the league (750 yards, eight TDs) in their backfield, which should give them a lift as they shoot for the playoffs.

As a unit, the Hamilton passing attack ranks second in the league with 4,442 yards, completing 64.7 percent of pass attempts, but the group still has just 18 TDs, compared to 15 picks.

Hamilton won the two previous meetings between the clubs this season, the most recent of those coming in Week 17 when the Tiger-Cats delivered a 16-6 victory at home. In that contest, Ottawa had just a single point at the break, yet trailed by a score of only 7-6 heading into the fourth quarter.

Burris converted 14-of-27 passes for 160 yards and was sacked four times, while the running game generated just 41 more yards which meant Ottawa's 201 yards of total offense was exactly half that of Hamilton as the 'Cats ran for 207 yards and passed for another 195, including a seven-yard major from Collaros to Bakari Grant to seal the win.

In terms of the all-time series between teams representing these two cities, Hamilton now leads by a count of 97-69 in regular-season matchups dating back to 1950.

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