Bye-bye Buono: Tiger-Cats coast to East final in Lions coach's CFL farewell
Hamilton to face Redblacks after scoring 28 points off turnovers in 48-8 laugher
Jeremiah Masoli showed Sunday why he's the East Division nominee for the CFL's outstanding player award.
"All those things are nice and all good but if you don't win the Grey Cup it's just for naught," Masoli said. "We're focused on our ultimate goal as a team.
"Just happy for the guys in that locker-room to come out and have that dominating win and get that momentum and all those good vibes going."
Masoli was 14-of-19 passing for 259 yards and helped Hamilton emphatically snap a three-game losing streak. The Ticats were the last team to reach the East final after losing their final three regular-season contests, doing so in 2015.
Watch highlights of Hamilton's win over B.C.:
Retired wrestler Ric Flair whipped the announced Tim Hortons Field sellout of 23,911 into a frenzy by leading the pre-game Oskee-Wee-Wee chant. But Masoli set the tone by converting a second-and-12 situation with a 38-yard completion to Bralon Addison on the Ticats' second play from scrimmage.
Tackle Kevin Powell capped that opening nine-play, 90-yard scoring march by recovering Dane Evans' third-and-one fumble in the endzone at 6:20 of the first.
"Bralon did a great job reading the coverage," Masoli said. "Yeah, it was a great tone setter."
The legendary <a href="https://twitter.com/RicFlairNatrBoy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RicFlairNatrBoy</a> leads <a href="https://twitter.com/TimHortonsField?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TimHortonsField</a> in the Oskee Wee Wee! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HamiltonProud?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HamiltonProud</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ticats?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ticats</a> <a href="https://t.co/6IfbT8r52F">pic.twitter.com/6IfbT8r52F</a>—@Ticats
Hamilton opened the game with three straight TD drives, the first time any team had done so in a CFL playoff game since the Ticats on Nov. 17, 1985 in a 50-26 win over Montreal. Masoli did his part, completing his first 10 passes for 177 yards and two touchdown strikes.
Hamilton also earned its second straight one-sided home win over B.C. after downing the Lions 40-10 at Tim Hortons Field on Sept. 29. This after losing starting cornerback Jumal Rolle to an Achilles injury suffered during the pre-game warmup.
"Coach [June Jones] already knew them and he had a great scheme man," Masoli said. "We got a little creative, put in a few wrinkles just for them.
"The guys executed it well."
Addison, who started ahead of former NFLer Terrell Sinkfield Jr., was outstanding with five first-half catches for 124 yards while Luke Tasker had three receptions for 70 yards and two TDs. Hamilton amassed 450 net offensive yards and surged into a commanding 28-0 half-time advantage as Masoli had every answer for a B.C. defence that finished tied for the CFL lead in sacks (45) and interceptions (21).
But the Lions were a dismal 2-7 on the road this season.
Jones had a simple reason for starting Addison ahead of Sinkfield.
"He's better," Jones said. "He gets it, he understands, he's smart.
"The game is not too big for him. He can make those type plays and he did again tonight."
B.C. reached the East Division playoffs as a crossover team after finishing fourth in the West with a 9-9 record. But the Lions ended their season with three straight losses, an unceremonious end to head coach Wally Buono's illustrious CFL career.
"They coached better, they played better, they made plays and we didn't really even show up," Buono said matter of factly.