OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks made no excuses Saturday night as they fell 26-22 to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at TD Place.
Ottawa didn't show up for the game until the second half and by then they had dug far too deep a hole for themselves.
"I don't know if we overlooked Hamilton or what went on, but they came out here and punched us in the face just like you're supposed to do on the road," said Ottawa running back Mossis Madu. "We just came out way too flat. We just did too much, too late."
The loss may be the least of the Redblacks (4-7-1) worries at this point as starting quarterback Trevor Harris left the game midway through the third quarter after having his right shoulder driven into the ground and was later sporting a sling on the sidelines. Harris was 18-for-28 for 193 yards and one TD.
"I don't know too much yet, but I know it's not a season-ending thing," said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. "(Sunday) will probably be a big day of how he wakes up and how he feels. We're hoping it's a shorter-term thing, but we'll see how that goes."
Drew Tate made his first appearance and finished the game 7-for-12 for 108 yards and one touchdown.
"There was enough time for us to come back," said Tate. "I just couldn't sprinkle enough magic dust on everyone to get a (win)."
Hamilton's Jeremiah Masoli was impressive in his second appearance going 17-for-31 for 231 yards as the Tiger-Cats improve to 2-8-0. C.J. Gable ran in two touchdowns and finished with 74 yards on 11 carries.
"We battled our butts off," said Masoli. "We all know what C.J. can do with the ball in his hands so we were definitely trying to feed him."
Masoli looked just as comfortable running the ball as he had seven carries for 73 yards.
The Redblacks will want to focus on their second half when reviewing this one as they held Hamilton to just one field goal after giving up 23 points in the first half.
"You could kind of tell the belief was different in the first half than it was last week and I think that was both offensively and defensively," said Hamilton coach June Jones, who is undefeated (2-0) since taking over for Kent Austin.
"I think the guys are getting it. They know what's at stake. They know we had to win a couple on the road and this was one we felt we could win."
Ottawa got off to a much better start in the second — scoring a 22-yard TD on its opening drive that started with a 27-yard punt return by Diontae Spencer, who also scored the TD. With a two-point convert the Redblacks were back in the game trailing 23-15.
Tate connected with Josh Stangby early in the fourth for a 29-yard TD, but fell short on the two-point convert to trail 26-21.
Brett Maher's 44-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth went wide, but Ottawa was able to settle for a single point to trail 26-22.
Ottawa trailed 23-7 after the first half to the disappointment of the 24,901 on hand.
On one play Ottawa took 30 yards in penalties, allowing Hamilton to get deep enough into Redblacks territory to score a 38-yard field goal to make it 23-4 lead.
The Redblacks only scoring came on 43- and 38-yard field goals and a single after Maher's 25-yard field-goal attempt went wide.
A Hamilton challenge resulted in the Redblacks being called for pass interference, putting the Tiger-Cats in the red zone, and two plays later Hamilton went up 17-1 as Gable ran in a two-yard TD. The Tiger-Cats later added a 23-yard field goal to go up 20-1.
The Tiger-Cats took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter as Gable scored a TD on their opening drive and then went on to add a 10-yard field goal.
Notes: Former Ottawa QB Henry Burris was recognized for his contributions to the franchise at halftime by having his number "1" honoured and was presented with a wooden replica of the Grey Cup. Earlier in the week Burris was given the key to the city.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press