Lirim Hajrullahu kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats became the first team in the CFL to clinch a playoff spot by holding off a big comeback attempt in a 30-27 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday.
“The way I saw it, the ball was going dead centre,” said Hajrullahu. “And because of the way the ball was held last second there, the way it was pulled back that was kind of getting a little slice — it was coming around — and saw it going in, and all of the sudden it was taking a left turn, and I’m ‘woah, woah, woah woah’, and then finally it hit the upright, and went in and I was just so happy.”
The Ticats (10-3) have won five of their last six.
The Eskimos (6-7) have dropped four games in a row.
“They made some plays and I’m sure when we look back at it, it’ll be some communication things that they took advantage of,” said head coach Jason Maas after the game. “But ultimately they’re a great offense. They’ve got a lot of weapons. They make you communicate, and if you don’t line up properly, or you don’t communicate, bad things happen.”
LISTEN BELOW: Jason Maas
Hamilton got on the board first with six minutes left in the opening quarter when Brandon Banks reeled in a short Dane Evans pass and turned on the jets for a 42-yard touchdown. Anthony Coombs then caught a two-point conversion.
Just a minute later, on the heels of Frankie Williams intercepting Eskimos quarterback Logan Kilgore, Evans found a wide-open Marcus Tucker in the end zone for a 41-yard TD strike.
The Ticats potent air attack continued to be impressive when just three minutes after that Evans unleashed a long bomb to Bralon Addison for a 76-yard touchdown. Hamilton had 197 passing yards in the first quarter.
“We’ve got great faith in our defense,” said Eskimos quarterback Logan Kilgore. “I think we’ve got incredible leadership on that side of the ball. They’ve played great for us all year. Obviously there’s plays they might want back, but that has nothing to do with why we weren’t converting on offense. We got to control what we can control and do our job. It would have been nice to give them a little more rest and sustain some drives there, especially in the first quarter. It just didn’t happen.”
LISTEN BELOW: Logan Kilgore
The Eskimos will look to turn things around on Sept. 28, when they take on the Redblacks in Ottawa, with the Countdown to Kick-off starting at 12:30 p.m. on 630 CHED, and the kick-off at 2 p.m.
LISTEN BELOW: Ricky Ray speaks after being enshrined on the Eskimos Wall of Honour on Friday