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HAMILTON — Jeremiah Masoli threw two second-half TD passes as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated Ottawa 32-3 on Saturday to eliminate the Redblacks from playoff contention.
Hamilton (5-5) captured a third straight win over Ottawa but its first home victory in three games. In the two previous losses, the Ticats suffered defeat despite taking double-digit advantages into the fourth quarter.
On Saturday, Hamilton made an 18-3 advantage stand, to the delight of the Tim Hortons Field gathering of 20,112. Masoli's eight-yard touchdown pass to Jaelon Acklin at 11:40 put the Ticats ahead 25-3 and culminated a seven-play, 75-yard drive.
Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer opted to gamble on third-and-two rather than kick the field goal. Masoli justified that faith, hitting Steven Dunbar Jr. on a seven-yard completion.
Dane Evans' three-yard TD run, his second of the game, at 13:52 rounded out the scoring.
Masoli, who left the contest briefly after suffering a bloody nose, was a solid 25-of-28 passing for 320 yards in registering his first win in five starts this season. The veteran quarterback improved to 3-5 versus Ottawa all-time.
Hamilton's win tightened up the East Division standings. The Montreal Alouettes (6-4) are first after earning a 37-16 home victory over the Toronto Argonauts (6-4) on Friday night.
Ottawa (2-9) suffered its fourth straight loss.
Redblacks starter Caleb Evans was 12-of-15 passing for 138 yards but also had two interceptions. Since recording three TD strikes in his CFL debut, the six-foot-two 210-pound Evans has thrown nine interceptions and just one TD in his last four starts.
After throwing his second pick in the third, Evans was replaced under centre by Devlin Hodges. The former Pittsburgh Steeler was eight-of-16 passing for 49 yards and an interception in his first CFL action.
Masoli put Hamilton ahead 15-3 with a four-yard TD strike to Dunbar Jr. at 3:39 of the third. It came a play after Desmond Lawrence returned an Evans interception to the Ottawa four-yard line.
Evans' second pick set up Taylor Bertolet's 29-yard field goal at 10:12, putting Hamilton ahead 18-3. It came after an open Brandon Banks, the CFL's outstanding player in 2019, dropped a TD catch in the end zone.
And when Ottawa's offence took to the field, Hodges was at quarterback.
Jackson Bennett had a two-point convert for Hamilton, Bertolet booted three converts and a field goal.
Lewis Ward kicked a field goal for Ottawa.
Evans' one-yard TD run 58 seconds into the second staked Hamilton to an 8-3 half-time advantage. But it was a costly opening half for the Ticats, who lost receiver Bralon Addison (hamstring), running back Maleek Irons (upper body) and offensive lineman Darius Ciraco (back) to injury - the last two being Canadians.
Addison was hurt following a 60-yard completion and left the game having registered five catches for 95 yards. And Hamilton was already playing shorthanded as running back Sean Thomas Erlington was active for the contest but didn't dress while American running back Don Jackson was a pre-game scratch.
Despite the low score, both quarterbacks put up decent first-half numbers. Masoli completed 14-of-15 passes for 193 yards while Evans was 9-of-10 passing for 92 yards.
But Evans accounted for the long touchdown of the half, capping a smart eight-play, 100-yard drive. Bennett then ran for the two-point convert.
Ward accounted for all of Ottawa's scoring with a nine-yard field goal at 6:04. It was a disappointing end for the Redblacks considering they were first-and-goal from the Hamilton two-yard line.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2021.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press