Jeremiah Masoli and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats punched their playoff ticket Friday night.
Masoli threw for 258 yards and a touchdown as Hamilton held on to defeat the visiting B.C. Lions 26-18 and cement an East Division playoff spot. The Ticats (7-5-0) registered their third straight win and eliminated the threat of a crossover before a Tim Hortons Field crowd of 21,618.
B.C. (4-8-0) suffered its sixth straight loss and dropped a decision to an East Division opponent for the second straight week. The Lions lost a 31-29 overtime contest to the Toronto Argonauts last week after kicker Jimmy Camacho missed three fourth-quarter field goal tries.
That landed Camacho on the practice roster with American Nick Vogel handling kicking duties Friday night.
And Vogel pulled B.C. to within 19-12 with a 33-yard field goal at 3:39 of the fourth. Hamilton effectively countered with Sean Thomas Erlington’s four-yard TD run, putting the Ticats ahead 26-12 at 7:00.
But Lions starter Mike Reilly pulled B.C. to within 26-18 with a one-yard TD run with 1:18 remaining. Vogel missed the convert and appeared to suffer a leg injury. That forced punter Stefan Flintoft to attempt the onside kick with Hamilton maintaining possession with 1:16 to play.
B.C. did get the ball back at its own 49-yard line with 39 seconds remaining. However Reilly’s Hail Mary pass into the Hamilton end zone on the final play fell incomplete.
Brandon Banks scored Hamilton’s other touchdown. Taylor Bertolet kicked two converts and three field goals while Joel Whitford had a single. The other points came on a safety.
James Butler also scored a TD for B.C. Vogel added two field goals.
Masoli finished 19-of-28 passing while Banks registered six catches for 75 yards.
Reilly was 33-of-43 passing for 330 yards and an interception.
Hamilton went ahead 19-9 after Whitford’s 61-yard punt went for a single at 13:31 of the third.
Butler pulled B.C. to within 18-9 with an eight-yard TD run at 9:43 of the third but Vogel missed the convert. Bertolet had put Hamilton ahead 18-3 with a 20-yard field goal at 3:16 of the third.
Masoli’s 32-yard TD strike to Banks at 14:01 of the second staked Hamilton into a 15-3 halftime advantage. The score was the first of the season for Banks, who had 13 receiving touchdowns in 2019 when he was the CFL’s outstanding player.
It was a solid opening half for Masoli, who was 10-of-14 passing for 157 yards and Banks was a favourite target with five catches for 73 yards. The TD hookup was the first between Masoli and Banks since July 2019.
Bertolet’s 39-yard field goal at 4:16 stretched Hamilton’s lead to 8-3. It came after B.C. punter Stefan Flintoft surrendered a safety at 2:28.
Vogel opened the scoring with a 19-yard field goal at 7:30 of the first before Bertolet countered with a 15-yard kick at 13:37.
THE CANADIAN PRESS