HAMILTON – Ottawa kicker Chris Milo hit all four field-goal attempts, and the visiting Redblacks moved into first place in the CFL East Division with a 12-6 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday.
Ottawa (11-6) secured a home playoff game with the victory, and can wrap up first place in the division with a win at home against Hamilton next week. Should Hamilton (10-7) win that game, first place will be decided by the aggregate score of the head-to-head series.
Milo hit field goals from 35, 16, 24 and 30 yards. Hamilton kicker Justin Medlock hit both his field-goal attempts, from 45 and 18 yards.
Scoring was at a premium on another blustery day in front of 24,340 at Tim Hortons Field, and the play rarely left the north half of the field.
There were no touchdowns in the game. Hamilton defensive back Brandon Stewart appeared to score on a pick-six off Henry Burris with 5:05 left to play, but it was called back on penalties.
Hamilton failed to score on the possession. A controversial fumble by Brandon Banks was nullified by an unnecessary roughness penalty by Ottawa’s Abdul Kanneh, but the Redblacks responded by sacking Hamilton quarterback Jeff Mathews two straight times.
Burris, injured last week in a win against Winnipeg, managed to get the job done. While Ottawa didn’t score a touchdown all game, the Redblacks also committed just the one turnover to Hamilton’s four.
Burris, who led the league with 5,148 passing yards heading into the game, injured his left knee last week and was questionable for today. He was wearing a brace and didn’t take a snap at practice all week.
Mathews, a rookie pushed into action due to a season-ending knee injury to starter Zach Collaros in Week 13, committed one fumble and two backbreaking interceptions — one in the endzone and one at the five-yard line. Jacory Harris took over for Mathews with 32 seconds left after Mathews took a hit.
Ottawa had possession of the ball for 11:16 in the quarter and took a 9-0 lead with Milo kicking three wind-aided field goals. Two of them were set up by Hamilton miscues — a Mathews fumble that gave Ottawa the ball on the Ticats’ 41 and a roughing-the-kicker penalty that gave the Redblacks the ball back after going two-and-out.
Ottawa kicker Ronnie Pfeffer injured his left foot on that penalty and punting duties were given to kicker Milo.
Hamilton pulled to 9-6 in the second quarter on two Medlock field goals, but couldn’t take any better advantage of the wind.
The closest either team came to scoring in the third quarter was an 11-play, 71-yard drive by the Ticats that ate up 5:15 and got them to the Ottawa 10. But Mathews threw the ball into a crowd in the endzone and it was intercepted by Kanneh.