Lion tamers: Hamilton Tiger-Cats claw BC Lions in dominant Eastern Semifinal showing

HAMILTON – Jeremiah Masoli proved Sunday why he is the East Division nominee for Most Outstanding Player, dominating time of possession and putting 28 first half points on the board.

Masoli passed for 259 yards and three touchdowns yards and newcomer Bralon Addison hauled 124 of those yards as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats mauled the BC Lions 48-8 at Tim Hortons Field Sunday afternoon in the Eastern Semi-Final.

The Tiger-Cats will now travel to Ottawa to take on the REDBLACKS in the Eastern Final next weekend.

On top of a stellar outing from Masoli, the Tiger-Cats won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and were gifted a two-touchdown performance by Luke Tasker.

For a pair of teams that only played each other twice, there was no shortage of bad blood between these two teams.  The Lions stormed back in the first meeting for an overtime win and the Ticats owned the battle the following week in a game that wasn’t short on fireworks.

One of the primary differences in the Eastern Semi versus the two previous encounters was the BC quarterback, Travis Lulay, whose play in the final third of the regular season helped propel the Lions to a playoff berth.

Before Lulay could see the field, it was the MOP candidate under centre on the other side that put the first points on the board.  Masoli got the Ticats off and running with a pair of big completions to SB Bralon Addison and a 21-yard screen pass to RB Alex Green to set the Ticats up on the Lions goal line.  In one of the more bizarre sneaks one will see, short yardage QB Dane Evans snuck right, fumbled the ball but it was promptly recovered by offensive lineman Kelvin Palmer for the score and an early 7-0 Hamilton lead.

When Lulay did take the field for the Leos, his first play from scrimmage gave the Ticats another chance to score.  Lulay went play action and when he dropped back to pass, put the ball on the carpet.  It was recovered by DE Adrian Tracy on the BC 42-yard line.

Five plays later, the Ticats were in the endzone again after Masoli and Addison connected for 27 yards and then looked off the safety and found Tasker on a post for a 14-yard major.

The Lions responded with a solid drive to get some traction, but a 41-yard Ty Long field goal went wide right.

Already dominating time of possession, the TIcats made BC pay for the miss, generating a 4:56 drive that featured a 50-yard strike from Masoli to Addison before backup RB Sean Thomas-Erlington who made a nine-yard TD reception off his back shoulder.

Two possessions later, the ‘Cats flexed their muscles again when a 17-yard run by Green set up Luke Taskers second major of the game when he hauled in a 25-yard pass ahead of the goal line and navigated his way to pay dirt.  The major extended the lead to 28-0 with just over four minutes left and was set up by a third-and-inches stop by the Ticats when LB Larry Dean stuffed QB Cody Fajardo on the gamble at the BC 42 yard line.

Masoli entered halftime with a four-touchdown lead, a completion percentage of 81.3 and a receiver, Addison, with 124 yards receiving.  The first half was dominated so heavily by the Tiger-Cats that the Lions didn’t get their first stop until the 7:37 mark of the second quarter.

When the third quarter began, the dominant Ticats offence cooled but began to play the field position game – the Lions started their first three possessions of the half inside their own 10-yard line.

With just over five minutes remaining in the third frame, Lulay tried to work his way out of a jam, looking for WR DeVier Posey on a five-yard out.  Posey came out of his break and DB Frankie Williams jumped the route, picked off the pass clean and took it 39 yards for the pick-six.

That ended Lulay’s day, who was replaced by Jonathon Jennings for the remainder of the game, stuck 37-0.  Lulay finished 8 of 17 for 103 yards, one interception, one fumble and no touchdowns.

Jennings willed the Lions into the redzone for the first time and looked poised to break the shutout.  The Lions lined up on the Hamilton one-yard line on first down and went for a wildcat formation but the snap was fumbled by RB Tyrell Sutton and scooped up by veteran LB Simoni Lawrence who took it 92 yards down to the BC goal line.  Backup QB Dane Evans would punch it in from there to extend the lead to 44-0.

The Lions would finally break the goose egg when Jennings found WR Shaq Johnson for a 30-yard major.  They would add a two-point conversion.

Despite the late score, it was a blip on what was otherwise a phenomenal outing by the Hamiltoin defence which forced five turnovers and controlled the line of scrimmage all day long.

Before the day was done, the Ticats put Evans in the game to close things out.  He got in on the party by completing a pass to Mike Jones for a gain of 37 yards before the three minute warning to put another field goal on the board.

The ‘Cats will now begin prep on the Eastern Final in Ottawa while the Lions head back to Vancouver where they will clean their lockers out on Monday. Sunday’s loss is the largest in BC Lions playoff history.

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