Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Masoli leads Ticats past Lions 48-8 in East Division semifinal contest

HAMILTON — Jeremiah Masoli showed Sunday why he's the East Division nominee for the CFL's outstanding player award. Masoli threw three first-half touchdowns to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a lopsided 48-8 East Division semifinal win over the B.C.

HAMILTON — Jeremiah Masoli showed Sunday why he's the East Division nominee for the CFL's outstanding player award.

Masoli threw three first-half touchdowns to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a lopsided 48-8 East Division semifinal win over the B.C. Lions. That capped a memorable week for Masoli, who earned the outstanding player nomination as well as his first-ever division all-star nod after finishing second overall in passing (5,209 yards) in his first full season as a CFL starter.

"All those things are nice and all good but if you don't win the Grey Cup it's just for naught," Masoli said. "We're focused on our ultimate goal as a team.

"Just happy for the guys in that locker-room to come out and have that dominating win and get that momentum and all those good vibes going."

Masoli was 14-of-19 passing for 259 yards and helped Hamilton emphatically snap a three-game losing streak. The Ticats were the last team to reach the East final after losing their final three regular-season contests, doing so in 2015.

Retired wrestler Ric Flair whipped the announced Tim Hortons Field sellout of 23,911 into a frenzy by leading the pre-game Oskee-Wee-Wee chant. But Masoli set the tone by converting a second-and-12 situation with a 38-yard completion to Bralon Addison on the Ticats' second play from scrimmage.

Tackle Kevin Powell capped that opening nine-play, 90-yard scoring march by recovering Dane Evans' third-and-one fumble in the endzone at 6:20 of the first.

"Bralon did a great job reading the coverage," Masoli said. "Yeah, it was a great tone setter."

Hamilton opened the game with three straight TD drives, the first time any team had done so in a CFL playoff game since the Ticats on Nov. 17, 1985 in a 50-26 win over Montreal. Masoli did his part, completing his first 10 passes for 177 yards and two touchdown strikes.

Hamilton also earned its second straight one-sided home win over B.C. after downing the Lions 40-10 at Tim Hortons Field on Sept. 29. This after losing starting cornerback Jumal Rolle to an Achilles injury suffered during the pre-game warmup.

"Coach (June Jones) already knew them and he had a great scheme man," Masoli said. "We got a little creative, put in a few wrinkles just for them.

"The guys executed it well."

Addison, who started ahead of former NFLer Terrell Sinkfield Jr., was outstanding with five first-half catches for 124 yards while Luke Tasker had three receptions for 70 yards and two TDs. Hamilton amassed 450 net offensive yards and surged into a commanding 28-0 half-time advantage as Masoli had every answer for a B.C. defence that finished tied for the CFL lead in sacks (45) and interceptions (21).

But the Lions were a dismal 2-7 on the road this season.

Jones had a simple reason for starting Addison ahead of Sinkfield.

"He's better," Jones said. "He gets it, he understands, he's smart.

"The game is not too big for him. He can make those type plays and he did again tonight."

B.C. reached the East Division playoffs as a crossover team after finishing fourth in the West with a 9-9 record. But the Lions ended their season with three straight losses, an unceremonious end to head coach Wally Buono's illustrious CFL career.

"They coached better, they played better, they made plays and we didn’t really even show up," Buono said matter of factly.

The 40-point playoff loss was also the worst in Lions' history. No crossover team has reached the Grey Cup since the rule was adopted in 1996.

Hamilton's Frankie Williams ended B.C. starter Travis Lulay's day with a 39-yard interception return TD at 9:22 of the third. After completing 8-of-17 passes for 103 yards with a pick and lost fumble, Lulay was replaced by Jonathon Jennings on the Lions' next possession.

B.C. drove to the Hamilton one-yard line late in the third but Tyrell Sutton couldn't handle a high snap. Ticats linebacker Simoni Lawrence recovered and returned the ball to the Lions' one-yard line, where Evans scored to put the home side up 44-0 at 13:55.

The Lions finally broke Hamilton's shutout bid with Jennings' 30-yard TD pass to Shaq Johnson at 2:15 of the fourth. Jennings then found Bryan Burnham for the two-point convert.

"We just could not do anything to get over the hump, to get any momentum back," Lulay said. "It just didn’t happen, today wasn’t our day.

"You have to give credit to Hamilton."

Sean Thomas Erlington had Hamilton's other touchdown. Lirim Hajrullahu booted six converts, a field goal and single. The remaining points came on a safety.

Both Masoli and Tasker are looking forward at playing Ottawa again, this time with a Grey Cup berth on the line.

"Obviously getting over this hump . . . was big for us and winning the way we did," Masoli said. "Having another opportunity to play against a team that's beat us three times, just to have the (chance) to beat them and prove we can is huge for us."

Added Tasker: "To go now to the capital off a springboard like this game we feel good. I already know we're going to have a good week of practice.I think we know how to play good, our leaders and our gameplan will be spot on. It's going to be a great game."

The game was halted at approximately 2 p.m. ET for a moment of silence to commemorate Remembrance Day. The CFL also honoured veterans during the pre-game coin toss and were scheduled to do the same before Winnipeg-Saskatchewan West Division final in Regina later Sunday. In addition, players sported poppy decals on their helmets.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press