HAMILTON — Quarterback Jeff Mathews threw two touchdown passes and led the Tiger-Cats to 20 points in the first half as Hamilton cruised to a 37-10 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks on Monday night in CFL pre-season play.
Mathews, who is competing for the back-up spot behind veteran Zach Collaros, hit Terrence Toliver down the right sideline for a 73-yard catch-and-run TD and threw a 23-yard score to Matt Coates streaking down the middle.
Mathews, a 23-year-old who played for Hamilton head coach Kent Austin at Cornell before Austin left for the Ticats, finished the half completing nine of 15 pass attempts for 188 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
He spent last season bouncing around the NFL, spending time with Arizona, Atlanta and Indianapolis. He signed with Hamilton as a free agent in the off-season.
Ticats kicker Justin Medlock hit field goals from 31, 37 and 32 yards out.
Quincy McDuffie returned the second half’s opening kick-off 98 yards to give Hamilton a 27-0 lead. McDuffie also ran a punt back 105 yards late in the fourth, but it was called back for an illegal block.
Jacory Harris, took over for Mathews, leading a 47-yard scoring drive anchored by a 39-yard strike to Tiquan Underwood that ended at the one-yard line. Harris ran it in himself for the score and a 34-0 lead. He also threw one interception.
Ottawa quarterback Danny O’Brien hit Torrance Hunt for a 15-yard TD early in the fourth to put the Redblacks on the scoreboard 34-7.
Medlock’s 32-yarder made it 37-7 with 10 minutes left to play.
Hunt also returned a punt 46 yards to the Hamilton 17. That set up Anthony Alix’s 35-yard field goal with two minutes left in the game to make it 37-10.
Both teams had only a week’s worth of training camp before tonight’s pre-season opener.
Hamilton didn’t dress Collaros, giving Mathews and Harris the ball. Jeremiah Masoli, the Ticats’ third-string QB last year, did not play.
Ottawa used four quarterbacks in the game, beginning with veteran Henry Burris, who finished the first quarter completing five of seven pass attempts for 56 yards.
Thomas DeMarco, Ottawa’s back-up last year, took over to start the second quarter, just as a torrential downpour began. He finished the half, completing five of nine pass attempts for 38 yards and one interception. O’Brien logged the TD early in the fourth, finishing off an 85-yard drive that began in the third, and then gave way to Brock Jensen.
The teams have until June 14 to get their rosters down to 65 players.
Carol Phillips, The Canadian Press