Hamilton Ticats blow late lead, lose 33-30 to Roughriders

Hamilton Tiger Cats wide receiver Steven Dunbar Jr. (6) leaps over the goal line for a touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during first half CFL football action in Hamilton, Ont., Sunday, June 16, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats looked like they were on their way to winning their home opening game Sunday night against the Saskatchewan Roughriders until things fell apart late in the fourth quarter.

Trevor Harris threw for 390 yards and two touchdowns while Brett Lauther kicked four field goals, including the game winner from 43-yards with no time left on the clock, as the Riders (2-0) rallied to beat Hamilton 33-30. The loss dropped the Cats to 0-2 on the season.

Lauther’s winning kick came three plays after Hamilton receiver Tim White mishandled a pass from QB Bo Levi Mitchell and watched as the ball landed in the hands of Saskatchewan’s CJ Avery. White also dropped what would have been a touchdown last week against Calgary.

Mitchell completed 27-of-38 pass attempts for 380 yards and three touchdowns as the Cats celebrated the start of their 10th anniversary season at Tim Hortons Field. Sunday’s attendance at ‘the donut box’ was 22,313.

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Just 11 seconds into the second quarter, Mitchell heaved a long bomb into the hands of a wide open Steven Dunbar Jr. for a 60-yard touchdown. Mitchell added to his stat sheet with about five minutes left in the first half when he fired a 39-yard touchdown pass into the hands of receiver Kiondre Smith in the endzone.

Mitchell also connected with Shemar Bridges for the receiver’s first TD in the Canadian Football League which gave the Cats a 27-17 lead late in the third quarter.

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The Roughriders thought they forced a turnover just before the Bridges TD when running back James Butler fumbled the ball on the Hamilton 36-yard line. But CJ Reavis’ helmet came off before he pounced on the football and he was flagged for illegal participation.

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Butler finished the game with 27 rushing yards on 12 carries while Riders running back AJ Ouellette was limited to 32 yards on 11 carries.

Defensive lineman Brandon Barlow had his best game as a Ticat by recording four defensive tackles and three sacks. Linebacker Ray Wilborn also had a sack for the Cats.

Hamilton and Saskatchewan will meet in a rematch in Week 3 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on June 23.

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