Quarterback Henry Burris makes no apologies for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats beating up on the CFL’s weaker teams.
C.J Gable scored two touchdowns as Hamilton beat Winnipeg 37-14 on Saturday afternoon. The Ticats (4-4) won their third straight overall and third this season over the struggling Blue Bombers (1-7) before 13,138 spectators at Alumni Stadium.
The Ticats cemented the season series with Winnipeg to move into second in the East Division behind first-place Toronto (5-3). Hamilton’s other win came against Edmonton, which is last in the West Division.
“If we didn’t win those games everybody would be like, ‘Well, this team is horrible,’ ” Burris said. “The thing is when you step on the field it’s not the team you play it’s how you play.
“Hey, we only go as the schedule goes and we’ve got to handle business when it’s time to handle business and that’s on game day. Regardless if it’s Saskatchewan, B.C., or Winnipeg, we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go.”
Hamilton, which beat Winnipeg 37-18 in Manitoba last week, look good offensively early. In the first quarter receiver Onrea Jones took a handoff, then threw back to quarterback Dan LeFevour, who went 29 yards for the TD at 3:16.
But despite registering 464 net yards, Hamilton’s offence sputtered until Gable’s four-yard TD run at 12:52 of the fourth. Burris finished 23-of-35 passing for 318 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Hamilton’s defence forced four turnovers and held Winnipeg’s struggling offence to just 11 first downs and 235 total yards. The Bombers ran just five plays for no first downs in the first and mustered only two Sandro DeAngelis field goals in falling behind 24-6 at halftime.
“Our defence played one heck of a game,” Burris said. “We did enough on offence to get the job done but we know we’ve got to be better.
“Next up is B.C., they’re going to be a tough opponent . . . but our focus is on us getting better and if we play our game we know we can be successful against anybody.”
Hamilton’s defence even scored as Dee Webb had a 32-yard interception return TD late in the opening half. Linebacker Jamall Johnson also got his first pick of the season and said forcing more turnovers has been a priority for the Ticats.
“The last couple of games we’ve been able to take away the ball more than once or twice a game,” Johnson said. “If we can keep that rolling and put the ball in our offence’s hands then good things will happen.
“But we’ve still got a lot of room left for improvement. We want to keep building on the positive things we’ve got going on.”
Winnipeg dropped its sixth straight. Its record after eight games is its worst since going 0-8 in 1998. Outside of Chad Simpson’s 44-yard TD run in the fourth, it was another lacklustre performance offensively in Marcel Bellefeuille’s first game as offensive co-ordinator. He replaced the fired Gary Crowton last week after joining the franchise as a consultant.
“Games like this are the ones we have to win if we’re going to right this ship,” said veteran Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January. “I understand patience is important and the old guys kind of have to make sure the young guys understand that and not get too hot-headed but at the same time we have to figure this out.
“I’m losing my patience but I’m holding very hard on to it as long as I can.”
Winnipeg’s offence came in ranked last in points scored and second-last in net yards as Max Hall, veteran Buck Pierce and Justin Goltz have all taken turns starting at quarterback. Hall started his second straight game but suffered a hand injury on the Bombers opening series, completing one of two passes for four yards.
Pierce took over, completing 12-of-20 passes for 92 yards and an interception before suffering an upper body injury in the fourth. Goltz came in with the Bombers trailing 27-7 and was 5-of-10 passing for 45 yards and an interception.
But the changes did little to inject any life into the Bombers, prompting injured Calgary slotback Nik Lewis to tweet: “I wonder if anyone on Winnipeg cares about anything more than a paycheque?” Later, Lewis tweeted: “I made the comment because as a fan of this game I just don’t see passion on their side. 24-0 early is not impossible to overcome. #Effort”
Added January: “We essentially put in a new offence last week. That’s not an easy thing to do . . . but it was familiar enough that there’s not an excuse available for us in that regard.
“I’ve been through ups and downs in this league and this is one of the hardest ruts I’ve ever been a part of trying to get out of. I think we’ve got enough guys in the room that we can get it done. It’s just a matter of going out there and working hard and continuing to believe in the process.”
With its season hanging by a thread, Winnipeg’s next two games are against the West Division-leading Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“You don’t like to think in those terms but it’s a big game for a number of reasons,” January said. “It’s always a big game whenever we play Saskatchewan and I think Steve Morley and myself are the only people who’ve ever won a Banjo Bowl and we did it wearing green.
“It’s already a difficult game for us, this just adds additional pressure on to our shoulders. You try and think like that, unfortunately you’ll get to be cognizant of the fact that our season is slipping away very quickly.”
Hamilton kicker Luca Congi added the converts and three field goals.
DeAngelis had two field goals and a convert for Winnipeg. Mike Renaud added a single.
Notes: A quick scan of the CFL transaction wire showed the Saskatchewan Roughriders deleting slotback Chris Getzlaf and offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte. But it was merely a paper move as both were scheduled to start against Edmonton later Saturday . . . . Defensive back Jeremy McGee, running backs Carl Volny and Will Ford and offensive lineman Chris Kowalczuk didn’t dress for Winnipeg. Running back Chevon Walker, linebacker Nate Bussey, offensive lineman Marc Dile and defensive Craig Marshall were Hamilton’s scratches . . . . Ticats special-teams coach Jeff Reinebold served as Winnipeg’s head coach from 1997 to ‘98. compiling a 6-26-0 record . . . . Bellefeuille was Hamilton’s head coach from 2008-’11, posting a 27-35 record and leading the Ticats to the playoffs in three seasons.