VANCOUVER – Sergio Castillo’s field goal with 10 seconds remaining was the deciding factor for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to beat the BC Lions 24-23 on Friday night.
Jeremiah Masoli marched the Ticats into field goal range with under two minutes left in the game, capping off a 226 yard, two touchdown performance. The debuting Alex Green rushed for 140 yards on 13 attempts.
Jonathon Jennings countered with 345 passing yards and a rushing touchdown but it was not enough for the Lions, who lost their second game in a row.
The night turned into a battle of the kickers and the game remained tight throughout.
Shamawd Chambers’ first catch as a member of the Ticats pushed the visitors past midfield. A pitch to Green kept the ball moving before Masoli found Brandon Banks at the edge of the end zone as Hamilton struck first to hold the early 7-0 lead.
A short kick attempt by the Ticats was unsuccessful, giving the Lions a good starting point to respond. Jennings found Marco Iannuzzi and Bryan Burnham for first downs before rushing the ball in himself as BC answered with a touchdown of its own. The two-point convert was caught by Burnham in the corner as the Lions jumped ahead.
Masoli could not string together enough offence with a few short passes to get anything going. Castillo’s 47-yard field goal attempt bounced off the upright and was no good, giving the ball back to the Lions.
A 28-yard run by Jennings was erased by a fumble by Jeremiah Johnson as the Ticats recovered at midfield. Chambers caught another 15-yard pass but the offence couldn’t do much more. Castillo missed his second field goal of the game but secured the rouge to tie the game 8-8.
Looking to regain the lead, Manny Arceneaux’s 43-yard reception put the Lions into scoring territory. The Ticats defence held strong and shut the Lions out of the red zone before Ty Long booted a field goal to give BC a 11-8 lead.
Working with under a minute remaining in the first half, the Ticats chipped away downfield to work into field goal range. Green’s rush was marked down with one second left and Castillo notched a 53-yard kick to tie the game as both teams headed into the locker room.
Opening the third quarter on offence, the Lions opted to focus on the rushing attack and as they worked their way downfield. Johnson’s continued pressure resulted in another field goal and another Lions lead.
It didn’t take long for the Ticats to respond. A 30-yard catch by Luke Tasker and a 20-yard rush by Green put Hamilton inside the red zone. Masoli connected with an open Tasker in the back of the end zone as the Ticats grabbed their first lead of the game, 18-14.
Facing their first deficit of the game, the Lions went back to the running game to get the chains moving. Chris Williams caught a 10-yard grab and Shaq Johnson’s 48-yard reception put the Lions just outside the goal line. BC was forced to settle for a field goal on third-and-goal and still trailed 18-17.
Hamilton used a series of short passes to work its way downfield early in the fourth quarter. Working with his receiving corps, Masoli connected with Tasker and Chambers to enter the red zone. Castillo kicked another field goal to go up by four and still lead 21-17.
The speedy Williams gained 19 yards and Johnson added a fresh set of downs on the ground but could not make it much further. The Lions cut the deficit to a single point with another field goal from Long with 6:56 left in the game.
A cutting Burnham secured a 24-yard gain over the middle before Johnson found a hole on the ground and rushed for another 19 yards. Jennings’ failed to get a first down on a rush which brought out Long for another field goal. His attempt went right between the uprights as the Lions went back on top, 23-21 with less than two minutes remaining.
Facing a third-and-six situation, Masoli connected with Tasker over the middle to move the Ticats into field goal range with under a minute left in the game. Castillo’s 49-yard field goal put the Ticats up 24-23 was enough to secure Hamilton’s first win in BC since 2011.
Next week, the Ticats head home and host the rival Toronto Argonauts while the BC Lions are on the bye week.