Ticats still winless

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

HAMILTON -- When you look at it, all the signs were there for a bad night for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The 'Cats had just one win to show over their past 10 games against the Montreal Alouettes.

The Tabbies could do little to limit Als star quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Rush end James Cotton is out with a broken thumb with Demetrious Walker in his stead. Defensive end Tim Cheatwood's gimpy knee promised to limit his mobility.

The Als, Grey Cup finalists, were coming off a 27-17 win over Winnipeg.

See a pattern here?

"Overall, we're happy with our performance," Calvillo said.

"We were able to move the ball, score touchdowns and give ourselves the lead."

How does 32-14 Montreal sound?

"We were down 17-0 before you could blink," Ticats quaterback Jason Maas said. "We came back to make it a game and in the second half, we couldn't get much going."

Suddenly, all the off-season acquisitions, the landing of Maas, the upgrading of the offence with Corey Holmes, Josh Ranek and Terry Vaughan, all of it seemed window dressing.

The 'Cats are 0-2, gripped by gravity again.

The game started with the Als' Damon Duval staking the Als to a 3-0 lead with a 30-yard-field goal. The boot capped an easy 71-yard drive.

Then Ranek coughed up a fumble on the 'Cats first possession. Another misplay, this one a pass interference, and a long Ben Cahoon reception brought the ball to the shadow of the end zone. Robert Edwards' one-yard touchdown plunge and the ensuing convert made the score 10-0.

The 'Cats jumbled things more neatly when Holmes fumbled a punt deep in Ticat territory. Chip Cox recovered at the Hamilton 23. An easy 23-yard-touchdown to Kerry Watkins and the score was 18-0.

At this points, all the Als really had to do was show up.

The Ticats finally composed themselves, capping a 64-yard drive with a Julian Radelin one-yard-dive.

The 'Cats drive, impressive without any self-inflicted wounds, narrowed things to a much more civil 18-7.

The Ticats continued to screw with the script, a Maas naked bootleg of all things proved to be the key gainer for the Cats but a smartly executed 17-yard gain to Craig Yeast brought Hamilton to within a field goal at 17-14.

The injured Cheatwood knocked the ball out Calvillo's hand and what seemed a certain scoring drive was aborted but that was it.

It didn't help Hamilton's hopes when Jason Boreham missed from 46 and 42 yards.

On the Als' first possession of the third, Cahoon was open for 46 yards and then a six-yard major to Cahoon put the Als up 24-14 and relegated all those second-half heroics into the past.

It also put to mind horrible starts of recent past.

Maybe you remember the 'Cats lost their first eight last season. A similar swoon would no doubt cast doubt on the future of coach Greg Marshall, especially with a worthy successor in Joe Paopao ready to step in from his job as offensive co-ordinatior/associate head coach.

The Als, 2-0 don't you know, took a safety for a 26-14 margin and added a late field goal for a 32-14 final. They doubled the locals in second-half first downs -- 12-6 -- and Maas completed only seven second-half passes in 23 attempts.

"The wins will come because it's not because we're pressing harder," Marshall said. "The guys are giving an effort out there. If they weren't giving an effort, that would be one thing but pushing too hard and being anxious and any of that negative stuff, fighting with each other, doesn't help."


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