Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli snuck a look up at the big screen as he ran towards the end zone and saw that there was no one around him.
"I was kind of shocked," he said about seeing open field on his 59-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that gave the Tiger-Cats their final score in a 33-0 win over the Montreal Alouettes at Tim Hortons Field on Friday night — the season finale for both teams.
"But I got to look up at the screen and see nobody was coming around me so I just went with it. It was the first time I'd [been able] to do that."
Masoli completed 28-of-37 pass attempts for 318 yards passing and one touchdown, and added 88 yards rushing on seven carries, including his 59-yard score. Everett Golson took over with 5:26 left in the game.
Hamilton began the season 0-8, but Masoli went 6-4 since taking over as starter from Zach Collaros on Labour Day, the same time June Jones took over from Kent Austin as head coach.
Montreal's TJ Graham had a 79-yard punt return to the end zone called back for holding in the game's final minute to preserve the shutout. Montreal hadn't been kept off the scoreboard since a 32-0 loss to Edmonton on July 17, 1997.
Good finish to disappointing season
Hamilton (6-12) and Montreal (3-15) are both out of the playoffs and have the worst records in the league this season.
"I'm really happy for the team to finish with a shutout on defence and we finally got going a little bit in the second half offensively, but the kids hung in and played hard," said Jones, who lives in Hawaii and only signed to stay in Hamilton for this year.
Jones said the win was rewarding, despite being out of the playoffs.
"How you practice is how you play and these kids practised hard even with nothing at stake," he said. "They were true professionals and I'm proud of them for that."
Luke Tasker, Brandon Banks, and Alex Green also scored Hamilton touchdowns.
Hamilton kicker Kenny Allen made both field-goal attempts, from 24 and 39 yards.
Montreal kicker Tyler Russolino missed his lone field-goal attempt, from 43 yards.
Montreal, meanwhile, lost a team-record 11 straight games to finish the season.
"It's just disappointing," said Montreal's general manager and interim head coach Kavis Reed about the shutout. "It's the cap of a very disappointing season. Those kinds of things at the end where you take a touchdown off the board, it probably encapsulated the season that we had. There's not another word for it. It's disappointing."
Montreal quarterback Matthew Shiltz, 24, was making his first CFL start and it began with two straight sacks. His sixth play from scrimmage was an interception. By the end of the first quarter he'd made as many completions (two) as interceptions (two) and had been sacked three times. The Butler grad replaced Darian Durant last week against Saskatchewan when the veteran was injured in the first half.
Shiltz completed 7-of-16 pass attempts for 96 yards, zero TDs and three interceptions. He was replaced by Antonio Pipkin late in the third quarter (a switch that had been planned before game time) with the Als down 26-0.
"It was a tough game," said Shiltz. "Credit to Hamilton. They had a good game plan. At the end of the day we didn't execute and that starts with the quarterback position. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth but you've got to learn from it and bounce back for next year."