Tiger-Cats claw out win over Winnipeg
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Henry Burris threw for a pair of touchdowns as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats captured a 28-18 win over Winnipeg in the final regular-season game ever at Ivor-Wynn Stadium.
Burris completed 15-of-27 passes for 171 yards in the outing, but still the Tiger-Cats (6-11) kept their hopes alive for the postseason nonetheless. Now with 39 passing majors this season, Burris has already surpassed his all- time personal best and has now tied the single-season club record as well.
With the victory Hamilton snapped a three-game slide.
"The defense played very well despite the weather conditions," said Tiger-Cats head coach George Cortez. "I thought in the first half the weather was not that bad, but in the second half the weather conditions were just atrocious...I told our guys after the game, I guess its good that we practice in bad weather."
As for the Blue Bombers (5-12), receiver Terrence Edwards caught one touchdown pass as he went over 1,000 yards receiving for the third straight year and the fifth time in his career.
Winnipeg used all three quarterbacks on the afternoon after Buck Pierce exited early with an injury. Joey Elliott stepped in and ran for one score and Alex Brink tossed a late TD pass to narrow the gap but still the team settled for a second loss in the last three outings and are now out of the playoff picture.
The Tiger-Cats were the first to break through in the first quarter as Burris hooked up with Williams over the middle on a short screen pass and the receiver did the rest as he out-ran the defense into the corner of the end zone to give the hosts a 7-0 advantage.
On the ensuing possession for the Bombers, Pierce was swarmed and lost the ball, it was recovered by Greg Peach just shy of the goal line and taken into the end zone. The play was reviewed to see if Pierce's arm was coming forward and in fact it was an incomplete pass instead, but the initial call was upheld, giving Hamilton a 14-0 lead.
Pierce went to the bench with an injury, making way for Elliott to enter the contest, while Brink was inserted primarily for short-yardage situations.
Kicker Luca Congi tried to add another three points to the Hamilton score, but a poorly-handled snap caused his attempt to be partially blocked, but still he was awarded a single.
Aided by a crucial penalty inside the red zone late in the second quarter, Burris and the 'Cats were given another shot at the end zone and capitalized with a nine-yard scoring strike to Andy Fantuz with 2:21 remaining in the half.
With time running out in the first half, Elliott was able to move the Blue Bombers down the field, enough so that kicker Justin Palardy could convert a 22-yard field goal to take a small bite out of the deficit which stood at 22-3 at the break.
Burris completed only 10 passes in the first half, but two went for touchdowns. Meanwhile, Winnipeg hurt itself with three turnovers through the first 30 minutes of action.
The offensive attack by the Tiger-Cats continued in the third quarter when Congi booted an 18-yard field goal to boost the lead to 25-3.
With just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Elliott finally took the Bombers into the end zone when he faked a hand-off and slipped his way up the middle and over the goal line from five yards out to make the score 25-10.
A 36-yard field goal by Congi added to the advantage in the fourth quarter, although the Bombers responded with a late 41-yard TD pass from Alex Brink to Edwards, with a successful two-point conversion making the difference just 10 points at 28-18, but after that Hamilton ran out the clock.
With the victory the Tiger-Cats still have a chance to finish second in the East Division, but they need Toronto to fall to Saskatchewan later this afternoon and then defeat the Argonauts by at least nine points.
Williams tied club record for touchdowns in a season at 15 in the first quarter...Edwards caught four passes for 61 yards to put him over the 1,000- yard mark for the third straight year and fifth time since 2007...Dave Stala had just one catch for 27 yards for the Ticats, but it was enough to put him over 5,000 yards for his career...Ivor-Wynn, which began construction in 1928, is set to be demolished in December and the team will play in the new Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium beginning in 2014.