No more home sweet home for Ticats

Tiger-Cats wide receiver Chris Williams runs past Mathieu Bertrand of the Eskimos, who is being...

Tiger-Cats wide receiver Chris Williams runs past Mathieu Bertrand of the Eskimos, who is being held back by Marcus Thigpen during at Ivor Wynne Stadium Friday night. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:14 AM ET

HAMILTON - Until last night, the Tiger-Cats were a Jekyll and Hyde team. Couldn’t win on the road (1-4), but were pretty solid on their own turf (4-1).

The Eskimos, however, took away the home-turf solid, leaving town with a 38-23 win over the Tabbies.

It’s not going to get any easier next week, either, when the home turf technically moves to Moncton, N.B., for a home game against the Calgary Stampeders.

Who knows? Maybe a home game that isn’t at home will be the answer to what suddenly ails these Tiger-Cats.

All last night did was confuse the issue as the team which previously struggled only away from home struggled mightily in its own backyard.

Whether it was Fred Stamps and Ricky Ray shredding the Ticats secondary, or Jerome Messam running wild, the Esks had their way with the Ticats most of the evening.

Offensively, the story was even worse. The Ticats’ offence had not produced a touchdown since Labour Day, when it scored a boatload over Montreal. Well, they finally got one Friday night, but it came with Quinton Porter at quarterback and, with a minute to go and the Eskimos comfortably in front. The Als shut down the Hamilton attack last week and the only offence, until that last minute score, outside of Justin Medlock field goals on Friday night, came on a Chris Williams kickoff return to start the second half that went for a 93-yard TD.

Glenn and Co., are too talented to be held off the board for one week let alone two in a row.

Now, it’s no longer a case of separating themselves from that mediocre .500 record, but just getting back to it that is the challenge.

LITTLE PAPER BOY THAT GREW

We at the Toronto Sun are going to take a little credit (or blame, for you Tabbies fans) for the Ticats whupping on this night. Messam, the guy who ran roughshod over the home side all night to the tune of 140 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries — he had already surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark with two minutes to go in the first half — actually toughened himself up in his younger years in Toronto with some early Sunday morning deliveries of the very paper you are reading.

Now, we’re not saying we had anything to do with developing his ability to deke a defender out of his equipment — although there’s always the chance a few nasty dogs might have helped add a few moves in his repertoire — but anyone who has ever delivered papers through a cold winter in the darkness of the early, early morning knows it can’t help but develop some kind of toughness. Messam confirmed that after his big game.

“It developed my strength,” Messam said. “The cart I had — it was this old-school, big blue cart that was really heavy. When you stacked the papers in, it was at least 100 pounds and I was like 11, carrying that thing around.”

For the record, Messam developed most of his football skills in Canada, playing at Brampton’s Notre Dame before heading south to Graceland University.

NO QUIT IN TICATS

You have to appreciate the lack of quit in the Hamilton defence. Sure, they got torched to a large degree, but even down 35-16, the defence kept coming. Whether it was Renauld Williams, Fred Hickman or Stevie Baggs, the Cats defence played hard to the final whistle. Baggs might have taken it a little far at the end when he was flagged for unnecessary roughness with the Esks trying to run out the clock with a kneel-down.

“We fought all the way to the end,” Baggs said. “Ricky Ray is kneeling and I’m not a dirty player, but I refuse to let someone just kneel like that when we’re touching him on the shoulder and they won’t blow the whistle. I don’t understand how that’s a penalty when you’re just trying to do your job and not let them just run out the clock like that. But it is what it is. If Ricky Ray thought I was being dirty, I apologize, but I was going to fight for our team. That’s all it was.”

Best line of the night comes via e-mail from a frustrated Argos fan who noted: “Wow, it’s like the Argos showed up in Cats uniforms.” Said fan is so disenchanted with his own team that he now watches the enemy in search of some entertainment.

THIS AND THAT

Last week in Montreal it was Bakari Grant in at wide receiver for Hamilton, Aaron Kelly out. Grant dropped a few, so Kelly got his chance this week with Grant not dressing ... The signs were there early that the Ticats were in for a rough night. Early in the first quarter, Ray pulled down the ball twice and still had time to find a third receiver for a 29-yard gain. It led to an Eskimos field goal but, with Ray getting that kind of time, you just knew he was eventually going to make the Ticats pay ... It’s wasn’t so much that the Eskimos were scoring early and often as much as it was how easy they were doing it. Messam wasn’t touched in his 26-yard TD run in the first quarter and on Calvin McCarty’s seven-yard TD catch, the Eskimos back couldn’t have been more wide open.


Videos

Photos