Canadian Football League

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ti-Cats win first Canadian Football League game of the season

For the first time this season, Danny McManus and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had something to smile about after a game.
Winnipeg Blue Bomber Gilles Colon, right, is brought down by Hamilton Ti-Cats Rob Hitchcock and Antoine Sanders at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Friday. (CP/ John Rennison) McManus made a triumphant return as Hamilton's starter, passing for 440 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Ticats to their first win of the season, a wild 41-39 decision over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night.
"Just to get that first win is nice," said McManus. "The guys in the locker room, you can see they're pretty excited.
"Hopefully they remember this feeling and want to get some more of it. It was a long time in coming, almost too long."
The victory, before an enthusiastic Ivor Wynne Stadium gathering of 27,443, spoiled a milestone performance from Milt Stegall. The Bombers receiver had a pair of touchdown catches to give him 117 for his career, tying former Calgary slotback Allen Pitts's CFL record. Stegall finished with four catches for a game-high 144 yards.
"I guess it shows that us old guys are getting better with age," joked McManus. "We're like a fine wine."
The win also means Hamilton (1-8) now has some much-needed momentum heading into its Labour Day showdown with arch-rival Toronto (6-3).
"That's really what we needed," said Ticats head coach Greg Marshall. "The guys need to feel good about themselves.
"I've said many times this game is half mental and half believing you have the ability to make plays and win football games. This will go a long way towards getting ready to play the Argos."
McManus, making his first start since injuring his thumb July 30 versus Edmonton, shredded Winnipeg's defence with the long ball. McManus, 40, opened the game by hitting D.J. Flick on a 72-yard scoring strike and finished the first quarter 5-of-7 passing for 220 yards and two TDs in staking the Ticats to a 21-10 lead.
Hamilton's receiving corps has been criticized this season for dropping passes, but McManus used seven different receivers in the game. Flick led the way with four catches for 142 yards while Craig Yeast added six receptions for 136 yards.
Overall, McManus finished 20-of-29 passing despite enduring constant pain from his injured thumb.
"It hurt on every throw but the offensive line did a great job of keeping everybody away from me," said McManus.
After Winnipeg (3-7) pulled to within 41-39 on Charles Roberts's one-yard TD run at 8:07, Ticats cornerback Justin Airabin intercepted Kevin Glenn at the Hamilton 43-yard line with 1:10 remaining.
Hamilton was forced to punt, but Winnipeg was forced to start its final drive at its own 36-yard line with nine seconds remaining. After a questionable incompletion, Glenn was sacked by Tim Cheatwood to end the game.
"I thought both quarterbacks were outstanding but Danny McManus was the Danny McManus of old," said Bombers coach Jim Daley. "He did a lot of damage to us in the first half especially.
"This was a big loss for us and a real disappointing one. What it does is put a lot of pressure on the Saskatchewan series. A win tonight would've give us an edge."
Winnipeg remains tied with Saskatchewan (3-5) for fourth in the West Division, two points behind third-place Calgary (4-5). The Bombers and Riders play consecutive games starting Labour Day.
Hamilton came into the game last in the CFL in scoring (15.8 per game) and eighth in passing (233.4 yards per game). But with McManus leading the way, the Ticats offence rolled up 532 total yards.
The Bombers hadn't fared much better, standing eighth in total offence (295.8 yards) and ninth in passing (223.9). But Winnipeg had 533 total yards, thanks largely to Glenn, who was 22-of-37 passing for 416 yards and three TDs.
Flick, with two, Julian Radlein, Craig Yeast and Khari Jones had Hamilton's touchdowns. Jamie Boreham added five converts and two field goals.
Stegall, with two, Jamie Stoddard and Roberts scored Winnipeg's touchdowns. Troy Westwood booted three converts, three field goals and a single. The other points came on a safety.
Hamilton dominated the first half, with McManus throwing two TD strikes to stake the Ticats to a 31-18 lead late in the second quarter.
After connecting with Flick to start the quarter, McManus hit a wide-open Yeast on a 75-yard TD strike to end the first after a late Winnipeg field goal cut the Ticats' lead to 14-10.
Yeast's TD fired up Hamilton, especially Boreham, who levelled Winnipeg's Gilles Colon with a vicious shoulder tackle on the kickoff to start the second.
But Winnipeg rallied in the final minute of the half. The Bombers caught Ticats rookie Tad Kornegay for a safety off a missed Westwood field goal, then Glenn found a streaking Stegall on a 75-yard TD strike at 14:54. The two point convert was unsuccessful the late surge pulled the visitors to within 31-26 at the half.
Notes -Ticats slotback Mike Morreale had a terrific game. He made a stellar one-handed grab in the first half, dragged three Bombers defenders on another catch, then in the third made a great tip off a Bombers onside kick . . . Defensive tackle Doug Brown (foot) didn't dress for Winnipeg, breaking his streak of 81 straight games played. The Bombers were also minus kick-returner Keith Stokes. Receiver Darnell McDonald replaced Stokes on the roster.


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