HAMILTON -- It takes more than a pre-game appearance by Rudy, that improbable Notre Dame legend, to lift the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to an elusive victory.
After Daniel (Rudy) Ruettiger left Ivor Wynne Stadium, the Ticats stayed close in what was expected to be a one-sided catfight but ultimately lost 28-22 against the B.C. Lions before 27,692 fans last night.
The Ticats (0-4), who blew a 19-13 halftime lead, are the only winless team in the CFL, while the Lions (4-0) are the polar opposite. At least the fans who came early got to watch the 1993 movie Rudy on the big screen.
"We're sitting here 0-4," Ticats coach Greg Marshall said. "Moral victories only count for so much."
Despite doing some things well -- running back Troy Davis rushed for 119 yards, topping the Ticats' total of 114 in the first three games -- Hamilton shot itself in the foot too many times.
There were dropped passes, foolish penalties -- including two taking back touchdown passes -- and too many field goals, instead of touchdowns. Quarterback Danny McManus may be the whipping boy, but his receivers weren't exactly playing textbook football.
Chris Brazzell, a highly regarded free-agent pickup from the Lions, dropped a long pass that would have kept a drive going in the fourth quarter. That led to a conceded safety, giving the Lions a 25-22 lead. D.J. Flick, meanwhile, had two first-half touchdown receptions called back when he was called for offside and pass interference, respectively.
"Considering we lost by a touchdown, it's a little difficult to take," Flick said. "(The receiving corps) has to get better. Right now, we're playing below average. We picked it up a little (last night). But as a group we've got to play a lot better to win some football games."
McManus, who threw two interceptions, will not criticize his receivers.
"Those guys are giving me everything they've got," said McManus, whose final interception (picked off by Sam Young) in the final minute sealed it. "They're great athletes ... and there is nothing you can say to help them think about catching the ball better. They've just got to go out and do it."
Jason Clermont and Paris Jackson caught touchdown passes from Lions star quarterback Dave Dickenson, who didn't have an easy time against a solid Ticats defence, while Duncan O'Mahony added four field goals. Davis scored the Ticats' lone touchdown, only their fourth offensive major of the season, while Jamie Boreham had five field goals.
The Ticats play Saturday in Edmonton against the Eskimos.