Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans threw touchdown passes and Lawrence became the franchise’s all-time leader in tackles as Hamilton beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 24-3 in the regular season final for the two teams on Saturday.
The next step for Lawrence and the Ticats will welcome the Montreal Alouettes next weekend in the Eastern Division semifinals.
“It’s always good to come into the playoffs with a winning mindset and keep the mind in a winning category,” Lawrence said. “It’s a big win for us and it’s time to go to the playoffs and win everything else. “
Saturday’s game meant nothing in the standings as both teams had already cemented second place in their respective divisions. Saskatchewan clinched its position with a 29-24 victory last week over Edmonton, while Hamilton (8-6) took second place in the East thanks to the Ottawa Redblacks’ 19-18 victory over Montreal (7-7).
Montreal and Hamilton shared their 1-1 season streak. The Ticats earned a 27-10 road win on Aug. 27 before the Alouettes erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit en route to a 23-20 overtime win at Tim Hortons Field on Oct. 2.
“We want to play in Montreal, we’re excited to play in Montreal,” said Lawrence. “If they stole it (overtime win), it’s time for us to prove they stole it.
“That’s what’s great about football and that’s what excites us. “
Saskatchewan (9-5) will host the Calgary Stampeders (8-6) in the Western Division semifinals next weekend.
With nothing on the line, Saskatchewan haven’t faced a host of veterans, including starter Cody Fajardo, running back William Powell, wide receiver Duke Williams, defensive lineman Micah Johnson and offensive lineman Dan Clark. Sophomore Isaac Harker made his first start of the season – and the second of his CFL career.
Hamilton lined up his starters and controlled the contest predictably before a rally of 22,344 participants at Tim Hortons Field, a season high. Masoli was solid, completing 17 of 21 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown to give the Ticates a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Evans took over to start the third and wasted no time giving Hamilton a 21-0 lead. He capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive with a six-yard strike against Brandon Banks at 4:34.
“Maybe it was a natural instinct to breathe out, but when they got out and played I thought their effort was extremely high,” Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer said about of his team. “I thought the intensity was there, I thought they were showing a sense of urgency.
“We’re going to keep working, I know we’ve got the right guys for that. “
Lawrence netted five tackles to bring his career total to 609, overtaking Rob Hitchcock (606) for all-time highs in club history.
“It’s legendary,” Lawrence said of the record. “He (Hitchcock) is a legend and a very respected man around Hamilton and the love has been felt in him all season.
“It’s a competitive sport and we all want to be on top and it has been for a very long time. “
Michael Domagala’s 34-yard field goal at 6:01 gave the Ticats a 24-0 lead after Tunde Adeleke intercepted. Saskatchewan’s 16-yard field goal was Brett Lauther at 13:35.
“We got more information,” Steinauer said. “I was glad the defense got a few saves early just to really crush any momentum they might have started.
“I was very excited and proud of the offense that comes out after half-time and takes the ball and sticks it in the end zone. It was good to see Jeremiah and Dane doing good things and I thought we were running the ball efficiently sometimes. But now it’s time to turn the page. “
Harker gave way to Mason Fine in the third before coming back in the fourth. Harker completed 16 of 23 passes for 150 yards and two interceptions while Fine had 5 of 9 attempts for 64 yards.
Saskatchewan did not use penalties (12 for 101 yards) or turnovers (four). The Riders generated 255 net offensive yards while keeping the ball under 25 minutes.
“You don’t visualize things the way they did,” Harker said. “But there are also a lot of extenuating circumstances that you have no control over and sometimes you just have to get out of it.
“I had a chance and it didn’t end the way I wanted it to. But I do not regret anything, all the hours that I have devoted to it. I’ll have to wait for my next turn. “
Evans had 10 of 16 passes for 126 yards with two interceptions. He also ran 33 yards on four carries and punted 25 yards.
Don Jackson scored Hamilton’s other touchdown. Domagala kicked two converts, one single and three baskets.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 20, 2021.