Cobb outshines Bruce in Ticats win
Arland Bruce acts like a star. DeAndra' Cobb just plays like one.
With all eyes on the flamboyant Bruce for his Tiger-Cats debut, Cobb stole the show, running for a pair of touchdowns and racking up 194 yards from scrimmage in Hamilton's 30-18 win over the B.C. Lions at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Friday night.
The soft-spoken rookie finished with 167 rushing yards on 17 carries, including touchdown runs of 14 and 15 yards. Cobb also caught two passes for 27 yards to help Hamilton (3-2) move back within striking distance of Montreal for top spot in the CFL's East Division.
Prechae Rodriquez also caught a TD pass from quarterback Quinton Porter, who threw for 171 yards.
Bruce — the ex-Argonaut who made headlines this season with an ill-conceived end zone tribute to Michael Jackson and by calling out then-teammate Kerry Joseph — was uncharacteristically quiet in a reserve role, catching exactly zero balls as he was thrown to just once.
The talented wide receiver, acquired on Wednesday from the Argos after Toronto coach Bart Andrus suspended him for last week's game, returned a kick and a punt for a combined 23 yards.
"It won't show up on the stats sheet but we used [Bruce] on a certain formation a few times and he was double-covered and gave us some room on the short side," said Hamilton coach Marcel Bellefeuille said. "He had an impact in which we didn't think they'd give him any special attention, but they did."
B.C. (1-4) led by a point at halftime, but the West's last-place team unravelled with four turnovers — and no points — in the second half. Jarious Jackson fumbled on a sneak attempt at the Hamilton goal-line, Ryan Grice-Mullen coughed up the ball on a kick return, and quarterback Buck Pierce tossed two interceptions.
The miscues led to 13 Ticats points that were the difference in the game.
"Turnovers were a big factor and when you put the ball on the one-yard line and you fumble, it's tough," said Lions coach Wally Buono. "This is why you're losing. This is why we're 1-4."
Knowlton turns the tide
Hamilton marched to pay dirt on its first possession — the eight-play drive capped by Porter's 15-yard fade to a leaping Rodriquez. Cobb played the catalyst with a 20-yard run and a 19-yard catch.
Trestin George ignited B.C.'s first scoring drive. The punt returner was popped when he collected Nick Setta's bouncing delivery, but stayed on his feet and weaved his way inside the Ticats' 30 for a 54-yard return. That set up a two-yard touchdown run by Grice-Mullen.
Cobb, who rushed for 110 yards on eight first-half carries, put Hamilton up 17-8 midway through the second quarter. After breaking off a 14-yard run to help his team get into striking distance, Cobb found an enormous hole up the middle and squeezed through a pair of tacklers at the goal line for a 14-yard TD.
"There's something about playing the B.C. Lions that inspires our offensive line," said Cobb. "There were a lot of big holes out there and I was just running with the ball.
"I made a few guys miss, but moreso I was running with the ball five yards before I had to."
The Lions closed within two when Pierce found a wide-open Paris Jackson for a six-yard touchdown catch with 79 seconds left in the half. Earlier in the series, Jackson broke free for a 42-yard completion, and Pierce tightroped down the left sideline for a 17-yard gain.
The B.C. defence then forced a two-and-out to set up a 29-yard Sean Whyte field goal that put the Lions up 18-17 at the break.
B.C. looked poised to extend its lead on its first possession of the second half, taking the ball down to the Hamilton one-yard line. But on second down, Ticats linebacker Markeith Knowlton stripped Jarious Jackson and recovered the ball.
It was all Hamilton the rest of the way
After a Setta field goal gave Hamilton the lead back, the Ticats capitalized on another B.C. turnover. Dylan Barker pried the ball loose from Grice-Mullen on the kick return and Sandy Beveridge picked it up at the Lions' 30. Two plays later, Cobb found another big hole and scampered 15 yards for the major and a 27-18 lead for the Ticats.
The Lions, meanwhile, couldn't stay out of their own way. On his first drop-back of the fourth quarter, Pierce lobbed an off-balance throw into the arms of Knowlton, leading to Setta's third field goal in three tries on the night.
Pierce tossed another one to the wrong team inside the three-minute warning. Beveridge's pickoff of the long bomb was the final nail in B.C.'s coffin.