Coming into this game, the Edmonton Eskimos had yet to look like a team that has put a full 60 minute effort together, but being the defending champions they made the big plays at key times to pick up big wins early on in the season. Hamilton came into this game off of a huge surge in the second half last week in Montreal, that catapulted them to a big road win before travelling out west to Edmonton, where they were the only team last season to beat Edmonton at home during their 2015 Grey Cup Championship season.
The first points of the game went to Hamilton on their opening possession. They got a 44-yard field goal from Brett Maher to give the Tiger-Cats an early 3-0 lead.
Edmonton would later respond as they were able to get a major score on their first drive of the game, when Mike Reilly found Cory Watson on a five-yard touchdown pass. After the convert the score was 7-3 to Edmonton. Sean Whyte later added a 42-yard field goal that had Edmonton up 10-3 going into the second quarter.
The Eskimos were looking good, very good in the first half, keeping Hamilton’s offense off the field and theirs on as Mike Reilly later connected with Derel Walker for a 22-yard touchdown strike for a 16-3 lead. Sean Whyte nailed the convert for a 17-3 lead.
Hamilton just could not get a good sustained offensive drive going for much of the first half. They went two and out on their next possession, which set the vaunted Edmonton offense up for yet another good drive.
Mike Reilly engineered another great drive that culminated in a one-yard run across the goal line by Jon White. After a convert kick by the similarly last named Sean Whyte, the score was brought to 24-3.
The Tiger-Cats were able to squeeze in a late 17-yard field goal by Brett Maher to at least get three more points before halftime, making the score 24-6.
For Hamilton, it was almost a case of deja-vu as they once again appeared to be struggling on offense in the first half, as they did last week in Montreal; except in this contest they were trailing by quite a margin going into half time, rather than having a 5-4 lead like they did versus Montreal.
Edmonton really just needed to do much of the same heading into what would become a crazy second half of this game.
The Eskimos were able to get points on their first possession of the second half as Mike Reilly found Adarius Bowman for on a ten-yard touchdown pass for a 30-6 lead, which later became 31-6 after the convert kick by Sean Whyte.
Hamilton was staring down what looked like an insurmountable 25 point deficit. Kent Austin’s Tiger-Cats could have folded up and tried to slug through the rest of this game, but instead the Tiger-Cats went on a historic run to end this game, one that even Hollywood script writers couldn’t think up.
It began with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Toliver, which brought the score to 31-13 after the convert kick by Maher. Hamilton was able to stop Edmonton on their next possession and they found pay dirt again. Jeff Matthews ran the ball in from one-yard out for a 31-19 score; after the convert kick the score was now only 31-20 and Hamilton was clawing back heading into the fourth quarter, only down by 11 points.
Hamilton did not waste any time in the fourth quarter as Masoli aired out a 23-yard touchdown pass to Andy Fantuz for yet another touchdown, and after the convert kick was missed the score stayed at 31-26. It was only ever so slightly still in favour of the Eskimos.
Jeremiah Masoli was going with what was working as he found Andy Fantuz again on a six-yard touchdown pass that had finally vaulted Hamilton into the lead for the first time since the opening field goal. Hamilton went for the two point convert on the play and Jeremiah Masoli aired one out to 5’8” Chad Owens, who took on 6’1” Eskimos defensive-back Kenny Ladler, and was able to pull off a spectacular leaping catch to give Hamilton a three point lead at 34-31.
Brett Maher added a 21-yard field goal to round out the scoring at 37-31.
Hamilton had Edmonton reeling all through second half, and were outplaying them in all phases of the game. Just before the end of the match, Hamilton sacked Mike Reilly on back-to-back plays to add salt to the wound that had Mike Reilly obviously frustrated on the sideline.
This was a comeback of historic proportions for the Tiger-Cats – who were founded in 1950 as a merger between the Hamilton Tigers (founded 1869) and the Hamilton WildCats (founded 1941) – as the franchise had never, at any point, ever come back from a 25 point defecit.
Jeremiah Masoli also set a CFL record in this game when he had 23 straight completions at one point during the contest, beating the record set by current Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. Masoli went 31/38 with 391 yards and three touchdowns to go alongside this record setting performance. This is the kind of season defining win that can catapult Hamilton team up the Eastern Division standings. The Tiger-Cats are now 3-2 as the division leading Ottawa RedBlacks face injury troubles of their own.
For the Eskimos, this is the kind of game where you have to just burn the tape and move on to the next week. They are now 2-2, and have a chance to get right back into the win column next week. We will learn a lot about this year’s Eskimos by how they respond to this loss. Mike Reilly went 32/42 for 354 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort.
The Tiger-Cats head into their Bye week next week on a huge high after a win like this. Edmonton gets right back at it on July 28, against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 9:00pm EST.