THE CANADIAN PRESS
HAMILTON -- DeAndra' Cobb stole the spotlight from Arland Bruce III on Friday night.
The rookie running back ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns to lead Hamilton to a 30-18 win over B.C., easily overshadowing Bruce, the all-star slotback who was making his Tiger-Cats debut.
"There's something about playing the B.C. Lions that inspires our offensive line," said Cobb. "There were a lot of big holes out there and I was just running with the ball.
"I made a few guys miss, but moreso I was running with the ball five yards before I had to."
Bruce, acquired Wednesday from the Toronto Argonauts, saw spot duty on offence and special teams before a sparse Ivor Wynne Stadium gathering of 20,103.
He had no catches but still commanded double-team coverage while registering an 18-yard kickoff return and five-yard punt return.
Not exactly sparkling numbers for a three-time East Division all-star, but Hamilton coach Marcel Bellefeuille said Bruce still made a solid contribution, especially on special teams after returner Marquay McDaniel was injured.
"It won't show up on the stats sheet but we used (Bruce) on a certain formation a few times and he was double-covered and gave us some room on the short side," Bellefeuille said. "He had an impact in which we didn't think they'd give him any special attention but they did.
"The thing that was critical was when McDaniel got nicked up, he had to come in and do returns. DeAndra was our second returner and we didn't want to use him in the return game . . .so we actually fell into a pretty good situation when he became available."
Again, Hamilton's offensive star was Cobb, the unheralded rookie who had been out of football for two years before being discovered at a free-agent camp in California. He ran for 100 yards on 14 carries and added five catches for 75 yards -- including a 48-yard TD -- in the Ticats' 31-28 road win over B.C. on July 10. That effort earned Cobb the CFL's offensive player of the week award.
Hamilton finished the contest rushing for 220 yards.
"I know DeAndra' felt he could play a bit better than he had the last couple of weeks," said Bellefeuille. "He really came downhill on his runs and hit the hole with some speed and that was critical to his success."
Cobb, who added two catches for 27 yards, brought the crowd to its feet with a brilliant 15-yard TD run at 14:42 of the third, putting Hamilton (3-2) ahead 27-18. The touchdown was set up by Sandy Beveridge's recovery of Ryan Grice-Mullen's fumbled kickoff return after Nick Setta's 28-yard field goal gave the Ticats a 20-18 advantage.
B.C. (1-4), which ended the opening half rallying for 10 unanswered points and an 18-17 half-time lead, drove to the Hamilton one-yard line before former Lion Markeith Knowlton forced B.C. quarterback Jarious Jackson to fumble, then recovered to end the visitors' opening drive of the second half. The Ticats marched 88 yards on 14 plays to set up Setta's go-ahead field goal at 13:06 of the third for a 20-18 lead.
Lions head coach Wally Buono said Jackson's turnover was critical.
"Turnovers were a big factor and when you put the ball on the one-yard line and you fumble, it's tough," he said. "This is why you're losing. This is why we're 1-4."
Bellefeuille also pointed to the goal-line stand as being crucial.
"That was huge," he said. "At halftime we talked about making plays when we had opportunities.
"When you have plays like that at different times in your season it changes your season sometimes and sends momentum the other way. It was a 10-point swing because we went down and got a field goal so that's critical, obviously."
Knowlton's interception set up Setta's 28-yard boot at 2:10 of the fourth that put Hamilton ahead 30-18, one of six B.C. turnovers.
Prechae Rodriguez had Hamilton's other touchdown. Setta booted the converts and three field goals.
Grice-Mullen and Paris Jackson scored B.C.'s touchdowns. Sean Whyte kicked the converts, a field goal and single.
Hamilton quarterback Quinton Porter was 17-of-31 passing for 171 yards with a touchdown and interception. He added 51 yards rushing on five carries.
B.C. starter Buck Pierce completed 23-of-36 passes for 282 yards with a touchdown but also had two interceptions and a fumble. Running back Martell Mallett was one of the few offensive bright spots, rushing for 91 yards on 12 carries.
NOTES -- Corey Mace, the native of Port Moody, B.C., who Hamilton dealt to Toronto this week for Bruce, signed a one-year deal with the NFL's Buffalo Bills on Friday. Mace spent the last two years on Buffalo's practice roster but the Ticats acquired his rights from Winnipeg before sending him to the Argos . . . Lions safety Barron Miles recorded his 60th career interception to move into fifth spot on the all-time list . . . Dave Ritchie, the former B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach, was in attendance.