Lewis Ward Shines in Redblacks Takedown of Ti-Cats
Photo credit: Adam Gagnon (CFL)
Kicker Lewis Ward accounted for all 21 Redblack points as Ottawa defeated the Tiger-Cats 21-15 in Hamilton. It was a game that needed all 60 minutes to determine a winner.
The Ti-Cats were within striking distance with under a minute left to play when Ottawa registered back-to-back sacks of Jeremiah Masoli to run out the clock. Anthony Cioffi and A.C. Leonard dropped the Hamilton quarterback to secure the Redblacks victory as time expired. Ottawa is now 4-2 on the season and in the midst of their first winning streak of 2018.
For the second consecutive week, Ottawa’s rookie kicker was one of the Redblacks’ top performers. Ward kicked a perfect seven for seven on field goal attempts on a windy day at Tim Horton’s Field.
“It was tough out there,” said Lewis Ward after the game. “The wind was constantly changing so I don’t know how much of a groove I got into.”
He now leads the CFL in field goals made and is 19 for 20 on attempts this season. Hamilton’s Lirim Hajrullahu missed two close field goals in the first half. As a result, the Ti-Cats missed out on six key points in a game that ended up being a six-point loss.
The Redblacks defense came to play Saturday against the CFL’s second-ranked offense. Along with racking up five sacks, Ottawa intercepted Masoli in the first half and held the Ti-Cats to a total of 31 rushing yards for the game. The Redblacks are giving up the second-least points per game this season but were perhaps assisted on this day by the volatile weather in Hamilton. The flags at the top of the stadium flew strongly in varying directions throughout the game and at times seemed to hamper both teams’ passing games.
Both offenses were able to move the ball relatively well, but could not reach the endzone until Jalen Saunders 29-yard touchdown catch for the Ti-Cats late in the fourth quarter. Saunders totaled 154 receiving yards to go alongside Brandon Banks’ 113.
Brad Sinopoli once again led the way for the Redblacks receiving core. Sinopoli, who leads the CFL in receptions and is second in receiving yards, finished the day with 82 yards. Redblacks quarterback Trevor Harris was an efficient 23/35 for 228 yards. Despite the win, Harris says the team needs to improve in the red zone and score touchdowns rather than field goals.
“We have to be able to finish those drives,” said Harris. “But obviously, it’s a gigantic win to give us a two-game lead in the East. So we just have to make sure we take care of the next one and take it one game at a time.”
The Ti-Cats defense kept them in the game by keeping the Redblacks out of the endzone. Hamilton had the worst ranked rush defense coming into week seven but were able to hold Redblacks running back William Powell in check. Powell could only pickup 47 yards on the ground but contributed with 61 receiving yards.
While Masoli was forced to scramble all game long, one of the CFL’s top playmakers still managed to throw for 353 passing yards. It was the first game for Hamilton since the blockbuster trade that sent national obsession Johnny Manziel to the Montreal Alouettes last Sunday night. Both Jamaal Westerman and Chris Williams, picked up from the Alouettes in the deal, saw significant playing time for the Ti-Cats. Williams finished with two catches for 22 yards in his return to Hamilton.
Ottawa has now won four straight games in Hamilton and currently hold a two game lead over the rest of the East division. The Redblacks will stay on the road next week for a Thursday night matchup in Toronto against the 1-5 Argonauts.