It was a game that looked over by the end of the third quarter, but despite being down 19 points early in the fourth quarter, the Ticats found a way to win their third straight, beating the Roughriders in Regina by the score of 35-34.
The Riders opened the scoring on their first drive. Following a good kick return, the Riders marched down the field and capped the drive with a one-yard plunge by running back Kory Sheets. It was Sheets’ sixth touchdown of the season and almost as soon as the game started, the Ticats were down 7-0.
Hamilton took the ball on their first possession and put together an impressive drive that stalled in Saskatchewan territory, so the Ticats had to settled for a field goal to cut the Saskatchewan lead to 7-3.
The offenses sputtered for the remainder of the first half. The Riders managed two field goals, while Hamilton could only muster one field goal and one punt single. When the whistle blew to end the half, Saskatchewan had a 13-7 lead.
If Hamilton has had one problem this season, it has been scoring points in the third quarter and that trend continued this week. The Riders opened the scoring in the second half on a missed field goal by Chris Milo, but Hamilton answered by scoring their first offensive touchdown in the third quarter this season when Henry Burris hit Chris Williams, who made sure to cross the goal line this time, to tie the game at 14 a piece. After that, the Riders owned the quarter.
Saskatchewan answered Hamilton’s score on the very next offensive play when Darian Durant hit Taj Smith for a 74-yard touchdown pass that put the Riders back up by seven. A Tiger-Cat penalty led to a conceded single on the ensuing kickoff, while two consecutive two-and-outs led to 10 Saskatchewan points and a 32-14 lead. Another conceded single on a kickoff put the Riders up by 19 and the game looked to be over.
But with the third quarter over, the Ticat offense was now free to play better and play better they did. A six-play drive that was highlighted by a 52-yard pass from Burris to Sam Giguère, and aided by a 15-yard penalty on Odell Willis, ended when Burris hit receiver Onrea Jones to cut the lead to 11. On the next Rider drive, defensive end Brandon Boudreaux stripped Rider quarterback Darian Durant and the fumble was recovered by Rey Williams, who ran it back deep into Rider territory. Two plays later, Burris hit Dave Stala and the Saskatchewan lead was cut to five.
A quick two-and-out by Saskatchewan was followed by a nine-play drive that ended when the Ticats went for it on third down and Burris hit Jones for his second touchdown of the game and with about three minutes left, the Ticats had come all the way back and were now up 35-33.
The Riders drove the field on their next drive but could only attempt a field goal, which went wide. Hamilton conceded the single and with less than two minutes left, the Ticats held on to a one-point lead. A two-and-out by the Ticats gave the Riders the ball back, but three Durant incompletions later and Rider collapse was complete. The Ticats entered the final quarter down 19 and ended with a 35-34 victory.
Henry Burris was once again spectacular. After throwing just three incompletions in last week’s win over the Montreal Alouettes, a performance that saw him named the week’s top offensive player, Burris followed that up by going 28 for 38 with 355 yards and four touchdowns. Burris has been on a tear in Hamilton’s three wins and looks every bit the former Most Outstanding Player the Ticats hoped they were getting when they acquired him from the Calgary Stampeders back in the winter.
This was Hamilton’s first win in Regina since the 2000 season and the Ticats have now won three straight after starting the season 0-2. The Ticats enter their bye week atop the East Division and will not play again until Aug. 9 when they host the 2-3 Calgary Stampeders.