Edmonton Elks get road win over Hamilton Tiger-Cats for first 2023 victory

HAMILTON — The Edmonton Elks went into halftime leading by 12 points for the second consecutive week as they led 21-9 on Thursday night in Hamilton. This time, not even a two-hour weather delay was going to stop them from getting their first win of the season, a 24-10 victory over the Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field.

It’s the first Elks triumph since September 16 of last year with 13 straight losses. A big reason the streak came to an end was the play of National quarterback Tre Ford, who threw for 174 yards on 13-of-18 with two majors. The quarterback also added 60 yards on five carries on the ground.

Ford’s main target in the evening was wide receiver Steven Dunbar Jr., who finished with four catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

Pivot Taylor Cornelius also added a major on the ground to go along a play-fake that went for defensive lineman A.C. Leonard for 45 yards as the Elks improved to 1-9.

Veteran wide receiver Eugene Lewis returned from an early-season injury and finished with two catches for 14 yards.

Quarterback Taylor Powell and the Ticats offence were able to move the ball – especially on the ground – but could not turn that into more than a single major by running back James Butler.

Powell finished 20 of 26 for 217 yards while Butler added nine carries for 101 yards and a major as the Tiger-Cats dropped to 3-6.

The Elks went for it all in their first drive of the game with Ford looking for Lewis deep on third-and-three. The veteran couldn’t come down with the pass though, turning it over on downs and ending a promising drive for the visitors.

The Ticats also came close to scoring on their first opportunity, but a missed field goal by kicker Marc Liegghio kept both teams scoreless after their first possessions.

Ford wouldn’t let his second chance go to waste. After moving the chains with a 20-yard pass to Dillon Mitchell, the pivot stood tall in the face of the pass rush and launched one deep to Dunbar Jr. to open the scoring 7-0 for the Green and Gold.

The home team was also determined to make the most of their second possession. Butler had a 43-yard run to put the Tiger-Cats in position to tie the game and that’s exactly what they did. On third-and-goal from the three, Hamilton handed it off to their running back to finish the job he started and cut the lead to 7-6 after the missed PAT early in the second quarter.

The Elks were not done scoring in the first half. Cornelius lined up for a quarterback sneak on second-and-one but ended up faking it and throwing deep for none other than Leonard for 45 yards. Faced with third-and-goal from the one, Cornelius went back in for a quarterback sneak and this time there was no need for a fake as the veteran broke the plane of goal and scored the second major for the visitors, 14-6.

The Ford-Dunbar connection showed up again for the Elks. A 47-yard pass to start the drive got Edmonton all the way to Hamilton’s 19-yard line before Brown made an inside cut to gain 10 more yards on the next play. Ford then escaped the pocket and found No. 7 for their second major of the game, 21-6.

Photo: Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

Defensive back Ed Gainey forced a fumble on Powell with under three minutes to go to continue a dominant first half for the Elks.

Hamilton found a way to get some momentum going into halftime with a 20-yard field goal by Liegghio that cut the lead to 21-9.

The Elks dominated time of possession 18:14 to 11:36 in the first half.

Edmonton started the second half with the ball after a two-hour weather delay and had a similar drive to their first possession of the game. Faced with third-and-five in Hamilton territory, Ford went deep to Mitchell but the receiver couldn’t come down with the ball for a turnover on downs.

Liegghio missed his second field goal attempt of the game as the wind dragged his kick to the left and Edmonton retained a two-score lead over the Tiger-Cats with 3:43 left to go in the third.

It was only in the fourth quarter that the ‘Cats found a way to get on the board again, albeit on a single as Hamilton missed another kick for a 21-10 score.

Kicker Dean Faithfull made it 24-10 with 8:52 left in the game for a two-touchdown lead the Elks wouldn’t relinquish.

The Ticats now travel to Vancouver to face the BC Lions on Saturday, Aug. 26, while the Elks close out Week 12 with a matchup at home against the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Sunday, Aug. 27.

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