Hamilton running back C.J. Gable came into Saturday’s game with last week’s close loss in Vancouver fresh on his mind.
For the 35-year-old rookie, the Tiger-Cats’ rematch against the B.C. Lions wasn’t so much about revenge as it was a chance to make things right.
Gable scored a 32-yard TD reception and had 108 yards receiving yards and 49 rushing yards as the Tiger-Cats defeated the Lions 37-29 in front of 13,101 at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium.
“I felt real good,” said Gable, who also had a fumble. “The line was blocking excellent today. The holes were there. The receivers were blocking perfect. Today it all worked.”
Hamilton improves to 5-5, while the Lions fall to 6-4.
“I want to see what they say about us now,” said Gable.
Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris threw four touchdown passes and two interceptions as his team got off to a great start, pulling to a 34-8 lead. But the wheels began to fall off in the fourth quarter as Hamilton allowed a B.C. comeback that just fell short.
“We can’t have those lulls that we had,” Burris said. “To have three turnovers like we had and give B.C. a chance to get back in the game, and leave our defence on the field, that’s uncalled for from us.
“They really didn’t do anything different from what they did in the first half. We’ve just got to be better in our execution part. I’m a part of that. We did enough early on to get enough points ... but we can’t have those lulls and put our defence in those situations.”
Burris completed 25 of 35 pass attempts for 375 yards to go with his four TDs and two picks.
Greg Ellingson scored two touchdowns for the Ticats and had 111 passing yards while Andy Fantuz caught one TD and totalled 112 yards in the air.
Shawn Gore, Nick Moore and Courtney Taylor scored for the Lions. Moore led all receivers with 159 yards.
Hamilton kicker Luca Congi was good on all three field goal attempts, from 29 and two from 39 yards. His final 39-yarder with 4:03 left in the game quieted a late B.C. comeback. B.C. kicker Paul McCallum hit two of three attempts, making kicks from 10 and 18 yards and missing from 44.
B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay completed 26 of 43 pass attempts for 334 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, but his 21-point fourth quarter fell just short. The Lions were down 34-8 heading into the final quarter.
“We have to find a way to be better in the first half,” Lulay said. “We had a couple opportunities in the first half down tight. If we convert one or two of those and then if we don’t give them a short field, coming right out at the third quarter ... it’s the first couple minutes of that third quarter that put us in a real tough situation.”
The Ticats were up 17-8 at halftime and widened their lead on the opening drive of the second half, driving the ball 69 yards downfield on four plays and finishing with a 32-yard catch-and-run by Gable.
B.C. took possession and on its first play from scrimmage. Lulay hit Nick Moore for 20 yards, but Moore fumbled and Hamilton defensive back Courtney Stephen recovered the ball and returned it 31 yards to the B.C. 23-yard line. On the next play, Burris hit Ellingson for the TD and a 31-8 lead less than four minutes into the second half.
Congi’s 39-yarder made it 34-8. Then the Lions woke up.
B.C. was driving at the end of the third, and, aided by a 19-yard pass interference call in the end zone, capped the 55-yard drive off with a one-yard score by Gore to start the fourth and pull to 34-15.
The Lions pulled to 34-22 with a 43-yard drive and a five-yard pass to Moore with nine minutes left in the game. Ryan Phillips intercepted Burris at the B.C. 14-yard line to continue the Lions’ momentum, but the Hamilton defence held them deep with a sack.
Ticat back-up quarterback Dan LeFevour took over for Burris to help eat up the clock with about five minutes left in the game, and Congi hit a 39-yard field goal for a 37-22 lead with 4:03 on the clock.
B.C. converted a third-and-10 at midfield with a 17-yard completion to Moore. That continued the 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 15-yard TD throw to Taylor and the Lions pulled to 37-29 with 1:57 on the clock.
Hamilton had to convert a third-and-short at its own 31-yard line at 1:19 to keep the ball out of the hands of Lulay. But he eventually got it back at his own 37 with 10 seconds to go. The Hamilton defence went into a prevent formation and a rugby match broke out as the Lions kept tossing laterals until they were finally stopped.
In the first half, Congi opened the scoring with a 29-yard field goal. Hamilton kicker Josh Bartel conceded a safety for B.C.’s first points and the Lions later added a 10-yard field goal.
Early in the second quarter, Fantuz finished a 75-yard Hamilton drive when he stole a ball from the hands of lunging B.C. defender Josh Bell and ran it in for a 37-yard TD.
Less than six minutes later, Burris found Ellingson for a seven-yard TD strike that capped a 56-yard drive.
The Ticats had trouble running out the clock late in the half and B.C. got the ball back on the Hamilton 45 with 41 seconds left. They got as close as first-and-goal at the Hamilton four-yard line. But the Ticats defence stood its ground to end the half, limiting the Lions to an 18-yard field goal.