HAMILTON — Hamilton’s Tiger-Cats defensive end Greg Peach, smiling through the beard he had grown during Hamilton’s three-game winning streak, said Wednesday he was ignoring how league statistics portrayed the Ticats’ defence. Hamilton was first in the league in points scored (32.4 points per game) but last in points allowed (33.4) after five weeks.
“I don’t really care, we could win by one point every single game,” Peach said.
Still, the numbers reveal all of Hamilton’s frailties, particularly their troubles on the ground. They entered the game having allowed the most rushing yards (127.6) per game. Calgary head coach John Hufnagel surely scrutinized those numbers before the Stampeders visited Ivor Wynne Stadium Thursday night.
Calgary relied heavily on the running game, and chewed up 233 rushing yards in a 31-20 win. Two weeks after being held to one negative yard — and then complaining his offensive line had not pushed hard enough — running back Jon Cornish rushed for 170 yards, setting the stage for a an eight-yard rushing touchdown by receiver Romby Byrant, and an eight-yard touchdown pass to slotback Nik Lewis.
Calgary did not have to rely on the arm of quarterback Kevin Glenn, who was returning to Hamilton after he was part of the January trade that sent Henry Burris east. Glenn completed just 15 passes for 141 yards. But everywhere Cornish ran, Ticats fell easily.
It took some time for Calgary’s offence to get going. The game started in damp and wet conditions after a storm moved over Ivor Wynne, Neither team was able to earn a first down in the opening six minutes.
Burris, pressured immediately by the Stampeders’ defensive line, gave up an interception at the start of the second quarter.Glenn, meanwhile, spent most of the first half throwing into open spaces, where there was a receiver only he could see. Three penalties in the secondary finally dragged Hamilton into Calgary territory in the second quarter, and Hamilton running back Chevon Walker jogged 21 yards untouched into the left corner of the end zone to open the scoring.
Calgary returner Larry Taylor then moved Calgary to Hamilton’s 20-yard line on a 42-yard punt return, before Cornish ran straight ahead to tie the game.
Burris, however, seemed to find a rhythm late in the first half, leading a drive that ended with a 43-yard field goal to give Hamilton a 10-7 lead before the break. Burris, playing his old team for the firs time since the trade, had 267 passing yards.
Calgary and Hamilton exchanged field goals to start the third period before Cornish found his legs and led Calgary on a 69-yard drive, finished by a one-yard rush by backup quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. That gave Calgary a 17-13 lead.
Walker replied with his own dynamic run, 47 yards for a touchdown, to end the third quarter. But black and gold jerseys kept falling off Cornish and Glenn.
After the two fourth quarter touchdowns, Calgary devoured the clock with an 11-play drive that lasted more than five minutes and gave Hamilton no time and no chance.