The Hamilton Tiger-Cats went into the Lions den and took down BC 30-13 on Saturday night at BC Place.
Hamilton showed its claws by beating a previously undefeated-at-home Lions team with a ground and pound offence and a dominant defence. BC had won six straight at home entering the game while allowing only one major to opposing offences over four contests in their own domain in 2023.
Leading the way was former Leo running back James Butler with 21 carries for 118 yards and two majors. Quarterback Taylor Powell completed 18 of 23 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown as the Tabbies improved to 4-6.
BC looked out of sync all game as the Tiger-Cats won the battle of the trenches on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. finished 26-of-40 for 311 yards, a touchdown and an interception as the Orange and Black dropped to 7-4.
Wide receiver Keon Hatcher led all Lions’ receivers with seven catches for 107 yards and a score.
BC’s first two drives ended on a turnover on downs and an onside attempt by Adams Jr. and it took a little bit for the home team to get going.
The visitors were the ones to break the stalemate with a long drive headlined by Butler. The former Leo carried the ball nine times for 56 yards, including a one-yard major that gave the visitors a 7-0 lead with 13:53 left in the second quarter.
The next drive featured Lions’ kicker Sean Whyte missing a field goal. That gave Butler and the Ticats a chance to get back to work. The running back again found holes through BC’s defence and Hamilton moved the ball at will all the way to the Lions 20-yard line until Betts stopped their march with his 12th sack of the season and forced a field goal attempt. Kicker Marc Liegghio came in to make it 10-0 with 2:38 left in the half.
BC’s offence couldn’t quite find its rhythm in the first two quarters of play as Hamilton’s defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage to pressure Adams Jr. into an uneven first-half performance. The home still managed to come away with a late field goal by Whyte that made it a one-score game going into halftime.
Adams and the the offence started the second half determined to write a different story for the game. Right on their first chance they moved the ball 80 yards but had to settle for a field goal after an incompletion second down, cutting the lead down to 10-6 in favour of the visitors.
The Tiger-Cats responded with another long touchdown march. This time it was Powell orchestrating a deadly short-yardage passing attack that ended on a 12-yard scoring-pass to Butler for a 17-6. Hamilton’s pivot completed four of five passes for 46 yards on the drive.
BC tried answering but a promising drive ended on a fumble by receiver Jevon Cottoy just across midfield with time running out on the Lions to put together a comeback attempt.
Liegghio made it a 14-point lead for the Tabbies with 9:16 left in the fourth quarter.
The Lions were trying to fight back but Thurmann got in front of a pass from Adams to receiver Justin McInnis and returned it all the way across midfield to put Hamilton in position to add to their lead and Liegghio made it a three-possession game.
Hatcher caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Adams with 1:51 left, but White caught the ensuing onside kick and returned it all the way for the final score of the game.
The Lions are back in action on Saturday, Sep. 2, as they travel to Montreal to face the Alouettes. The Tiger-Cats meanwhile play on Monday, Sep. 4 against the Toronto Argonauts at Tim Hortons Field in the first game of the doubleheader that closes out the OK Tire Labour Day Weekend.