CFL·Recap

Bye-bye Buono: Tiger-Cats coast to East final in Lions coach's CFL farewell

Jeremiah Masoli threw three first-half touchdown passes to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a lopsided 48-8 CFL East Division semifinal win over the visiting B.C. Lions on Sunday afternoon.

Hamilton to face Redblacks after scoring 28 points off turnovers in 48-8 laugher

Tiger-Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, right, and wide receiver Luke Tasker celebrate after a second touchdown by Tasker during the first half of Sunday’s CFL East semifinal against B.C. Masoli threw three touchdown passes, including two to Tasker, in a 48-8 rout of the Lions. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Jeremiah Masoli showed Sunday why he's the East Division nominee for the CFL's outstanding player award.

Masoli threw three first-half touchdowns to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a lopsided 48-8 East Division semifinal win over the B.C. Lions. That capped a memorable week for Masoli, who earned the outstanding player nomination as well as his first-ever division all-star nod after finishing second overall in passing (5,209 yards) in his first full season as a CFL starter.

"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.:

Jeremiah Masoli threw three first-half touchdowns to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a 48-8 East Division semifinal rout over the B.C. Lions. 2:25

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."

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).

Lions head coach Wally Buono, left, shares a laugh with Tiger-Cats counterpart June Jones before Sunday’s CFL East semifinal. Buono wasn’t smiling for long as Hamilton jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 44-8 victory. The 68-year-old will retire as the CFL’s winningest coach. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

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.

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