HAMILTON - Avon Cobourne spoke his mind on Thursday, saying he did not like the lack of focus in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ preparation for the B.C. Lions.
They were prescient words.
Another bad loss in a brutal 2012 season was the fate of the Ticats on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium as they fell 37-17 to the Lions, the 11th time in 15 games they have allowed at least 30 points.
“I don’t think we prepared well enough, coaches, players, everybody,” Cobourne said. “Everything is an issue. Everything could be an issue. I’m lost for words right now. That was embarrassing.”
Head coach George Cortez took the setback, the Ticats’ 10th against five victories, and put it on the shoulders of himself and his staff.
“I did not do a good enough job preparing them because we made too many mistakes on things we thought we had emphasized during the week,” Cortez said. “I made a promise to them it would not happen again.”
Fact is, the Ticats simply were beaten by a much better team. The defending Grey Cup champion Lions improved to 11-4 and none of the other seven Canadian Football League teams are at their level. The Ticats could have been completely prepared and still have lost.
A post-season spot of any kind is growing unlikely for Hamilton. The Edmonton Eskimos are two points ahead of the Ticats in the standings and are looking to become the sixth West Division team since 2002 to cross over and claim the final playoff spot in the East.
The Ticats have one game remaining at Ivor Wynne, on Oct. 27 versus Winnipeg. That should be it for the old stadium, which will be torn down this winter to make way for a new building. Tickets? Get ’em while they’re cold.
If nothing else, the final result was good news for the Argonauts, who are four points clear of the Ticats and are unlikely to be caught by their QEW rivals.
“I don’t know what it was tonight,” Ticats quarterback Henry Burris said. “I guess Avon was right. I expected more emotion, more energy. I was very surprised.”
At the half
Could the Ticats’ season have been summed up better than by what happened on the Lions’ opening drive? The Hamilton tackling was suspect, and reigning CFL MOP Travis Lulay picked apart the defence before tossing an eight-yard pass touchdown pass to Andrew Harris ... Further evidence that the Ticats’ heads simply are not it was made clear on a terribly obvious unnecessary roughness call on safety Dee Webb. He absolutely nailed Lions receiver Marco Ianuzzi, who was awaiting a pass. Defensive back Geoff Tisdale was flagged for pass interference on the same play, giving the Lions a total of 43 yards. On the next play, Lulay found Courtney Taylor, who sidestepped a tackle by Ricardo Colclough and got into the end zone for the visitors’ third major. By then, Ianuzzi had been helped to the Lions locker room, trying to collect his wits, and he did not return to the game because of a suspected concussion. Webb said he apologized to Ianuzzi on the field, and acknowledged he expects to hear from the league. Said Harris: “It seemed like an intentional spear ... I hope the league deals with it because it definitely was an illegal hit. It’s frustrating that guys do that still.” ... Hamilton had to be happy with a 35-yard field goal by Luca Congi after a 12-yard touchdown by Andy Fantuz was wiped out because Fantuz went offside ... Later, Congi was short on a 51-yard attempt, breaking his streak of 24 successful field goals in a row ... Lulay had an opening 30 minutes to remember, even for a player of his talent. He completed 18 of 20 passes (including all of his first 12) for 242 yards and two touchdown passes ... When Burris fumbled and the ball was picked up by the Lions’ Keron Williams at midfield, boos started to rain down from the unhappy gathering. The Bronx cheer continued as the Ticats trotted off the field at the half.
Lulay has thrown a touchdown pass in 26 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in CFL history. He has keep it going for the next eight Lions regular-season games to tie the CFL record of 34, set by Sam Etcheverry in 1954-56 ... There are many reasons why the Ticats find themselves in a tough spot in the standings, and a big one has been their inability to take charge in the second half. In 11 of its previous 14 games, Hamilton had either led or been within four points of the opposition at halftime. But it had been outscored 276-205 in the second half and outscored its opponent just three times ... The Lions, meanwhile, have been able to win close games, with their previous four victories coming by five, six, one and five points respectively ... Hamilton fell to 1-44 in the past seven seasons when they are held to under 20 points ... Tiger-Cats cheerleaders from the past six decades were introduced during a timeout in the third quarter. That was about all the fans had to cheer about on a chilly night in Steeltown.