Saskatchewan Roughriders break loose in second half, defeat Hamilton Tiger-Cat

HAMILTON – A week off served one team better than the other, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders ran loose after a slow start against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Thursday night, winning the season series with a 31-20 victory at Tim Hortons Field.

Saskatchewan combined for a total of 218 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Pair that up with their yardage on special teams of 167 yards and a touchdown from Christion Jones, and that would prove to be the difference maker in the matchup.

Jeremiah Masoli came one game short of being able to take sole claim of the CFL record for most consecutive games throwing for 300 yards while failing to throw a touchdown for his second straight game.

Both teams were slow to get their offences rolling early on in their second meeting of the season. The Roughriders only were able to produce a mere 20 yards of offence in the opening 15 minutes.

CHRISTION JONES WAS ONE OF THE MANY WEAPONS IN THE ROUGHRIDERS’ ARSENAL IN THE SECOND HALF THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THEIR COME FROM BEHIND VICTORY. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Saskatchewan drew first blood in the opening quarter after shutting down the Ticats on the first drive of the game.

Brett Lauther notched the three points for the Riders with a 28-yard field goal attempt nearly six minutes into the first quarter.

Immediately following the Riders’ score, the Ticats orchestrated a 67-yard drive to set up the first touchdown of the night. Former Eskimos running back John White sliced through the middle of Saskatchewan’s defence for his first touchdown of the season, and as a Ticat.

White’s score made him the third running back to score a touchdown for the Black and Gold this season.

Chris Jones continued his quarterback rotation, giving Devon Watford offensive reps on the Riders’ second series on offence. Nothing came of the switch, however, as the Riders went two and out.

Frankie Williams took matters into his own hands as both team’s offences shook off their bye week rust. The first-year Tabbie broke loose for a 98-yard punt return touchdown after another Riders’ offensive drive stalled, putting the Ticats up 14-3 early in the second quarter.

The wheels continued to shake loose for the Riders, failing to find consistency in their offence and missing a 40-yard field goal attempt, only taking away a single point after the ball ventured through the back of the end zone.

Lauther did redeem himself after the miss, booting a 36-yard field goal down the middle of the uprights, narrowing the Ticats lead to just seven.

Not to be out down by his kicking counterpart, Lirim Hajrullahu split the uprights on a 42-yard attempt, giving Hamilton some cushion leading into the half and maintaining their lead 17-7.

Jeremiah Masoli only managed to throw for 85 yards in the opening half, while completing nine of his 13 pass attempts. Meanwhile, Brandon Bridge took the majority of the reps in the second quarter, completing the half with 92 yards through the air.

Saskatchewan stormed out of halftime with a chip on their shoulder, rallying to quickly put points up against the Hamilton defence by way of Marcus Thigpen dazzling up through the middle of the field. The Riders’ back sprinted his way to an 80-yard score to narrow the Ticats lead to just three.

The Riders wouldn’t ease up from there, as Bridge, on their pursuing offensive drive, caught the Ticats’ defence biting on a pump fake and found Naaman Roosevelt wide open in the end zone for the go-ahead score.

Back on offence, Masoli couldn’t retain the momentum him and his squad had prior to the half, having to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Hajrullahu and bringing the Black and Gold within one.

The Roughriders continued to feed off of their newfound energy as Christion Jones sped through the lane set up by his blockers for another Saskatchewan touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Defensive woes continued for Jerry Glanville’s defence as Riders’ Tre Mason caught Hamilton sleeping on a third and two situation, busting a run for 30 yards before getting tackled in the Ticats’ end of the field.

Meanwhile, on the Green and White’s defence, Charleston Hughes chiselled his name into the top 10 all-time sacks list after taking down Masoli in the fourth quarter.

Time being their biggest enemy, Masoli loss handle of the football with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

A desperate last drive by the Ticats quickly came to an end after a pass attempt thrown deep by Masoli got picked off by Jovon Johnson with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter.

Saskatchewan improves to 3-2 on the season, pumping them into third place in the West for the time being.

Up next for the Ticats, they’ll look to quickly put their two straight losses behind them as they prepare for a divisional matchup against the REDBLACKS in Week 7, hosting Ottawa on Saturday, July 28 at Tim Hortons Field.

The Roughriders will host the Stampeders that same night immediately following the conclusion of the Ottawa-Hamilton game.

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