HAMILTON — Another week, another dominant offensive performance from Jeremiah Masoli and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Masoli threw for over 400 yards and a touchdown while scoring two TDs to lead Hamilton past the Montreal Alouettes 41-10 on Friday night. The Ticats had 529 net offensive yards after accumulating 604 yards in last week's 64-14 road victory over the Toronto Argonauts.
But it wasn't a clean performance. Masoli was intercepted three times and late in the first half Hamilton turned the ball over on downs after failing on three chances from Montreal's one-yard line.
"We want to win, obviously that's the goal and we're satisfied with that," Masoli said. "But I know there's a lot of stuff we need to clean up.
"We're just blessed on offence that we have such a great defence, such great special teams. Special teams put us in good field position most of the night and the defence did its thing."
But so did the offence as Masoli finished 25-of-31 passing for 417 yards. He threw for 338 yards and three TDs and ran for another last week against Toronto.
Brandon Banks (seven catches, 152 yards) and Bralon Addison (eight catches, 121 yards) were both outstanding. Banks also thrilled the announced Tim Hortons Field gathering of 22,407 with a 30-yard touchdown run while Addison narrowly missed throwing a TD strike on an option pass.
And then there was rookie Sean Thomas Erlington. The Montreal native had five receptions for 102 yards with a TD and two-point convert while rushing for 47 yards on nine carries .He ran for 109 yards on 12 carries last week against Toronto.
"He's a Swiss army knife, he can do it all, literally," Masoli said of Thomas Erlington. "He might not be able to throw that well but we might let him throw it just because.
"He's awesome. I've been saying for a while he's a true pro."
Thomas Erlington has certainly caught the eye of Orlondo Steinauer, who remains unbeaten as a rookie CFL head coach.
"He's consistent," Steinauer said. "You hope when given an opportunity you take advantage of it and he's made the most of an opportunity.
"He made some quality runs, some key runs. It's not the amount of yards sometimes it's how and when you get them."
Hamilton (3-0) opened a season with three straight wins for the first time since 2004 although the club proceeded to fall to 3-5 that year. But Steinauer said coaching off victories beats the alternative.
"It (being 3-0) feels good, I'm not going to lie but it's hard to enjoy," Steinauer said. "We're going to be playing again in six days and my mindset is already that way.
"I'll tell you this, it's got to be better than 0-3. I'm not going to complain anytime we win a football game. I'm not going to lie, winning is fun."
Vernon Adams Jr. started for Montreal (0-2) with incumbent Antonio Pipkin (ankle) out. Matt Schiltz started the third quarter under centre but Adams returned, finishing 14-of-24 passing for 173 yards with a TD and interception while rushing for 38 yards on nine carries before giving way to Schiltz for good in the fourth.
Montreal quarterbacks were under pressure throughout the contest as Hamilton's defence registered six sacks.
"That's a very good defence and when you play a defence like that you just have to limit the mistakes," Adams Jr. said. "I need to get better at not taking these sacks I'm taking.
"It's just the little things and as soon as we get those together I think we'll be a pretty good football team. When adversity hits you just have to look at it in the eye and answer back."
Adams hit Jake Wieneke on a 27-yard TD strike at 14:11 of the third to cut Hamilton's lead to 26-10. But the Ticats countered with Masoli's 10-yard TD run at 4:13 of the fourth, then Masoli hit Thomas Erlington on the two-point convert.
Masoli added a one-yard TD run at 11:12. The two teams return to Montreal next Thursday night.
Lirim Hajrullahu boosted Hamilton's lead to 26-3 with a 34-yard field goal at 10:22 of the third. Masoli hit Thomas Erlington on a 75-yard TD strike just 1:17 to the second half, then found Nikola Kalinic for the two-point convert, giving the Ticats a 23-3 advantage.
Dane Evans had Hamilton's other touchdown. Addison added a two-point convert while Hajrullahu finished with two converts and a field goal.
Boris Bede booted a convert and field goal for Montreal.
Second-quarter touchdowns by Evans and Banks staked Hamilton to its 15-3 half-time advantage. But Evans was stopped three times from the Montreal one-yard line late in the second, fumbling on his final attempt to give the Alouettes possession at their 10-yard line with a minute remaining.
"We had a chance to really get after them a little bit, maybe put this thing out of reach early," Steinauer said. "I know we have to do a better job in the penalty department (12 for 100 yards), that's not a consistent winning formula.
"It's something we're trying to address daily and we're going to get it figured out."
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press