OTTAWA - It wasn't the way the Ottawa Redblacks wanted their final home game of their inaugural season to play out, but it ended in very similar fashion to most other games at TD Place this season.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had a special team's touchdown and two defensive touchdowns Friday night in a 34-25 win over the Redblacks, who finish the year with two wins in nine home games.
"This is the way it's been all season and you don't want to get complacent or be happy about losing. They all sting," defensive lineman Keith Shologan said.
"We had some mistakes that cost us big time but there were some positives. The offence moved the ball and scored, we just had some plays that didn't go our way on both sides of the ball."
Both Ottawa quarterbacks, Henry Burris and Danny O'Brien, threw a pick six while their counterpart Zach Collaros tossed a touchdown pass and no interceptions.
The Tiger-Cats (8-9) needed the win because they close out the regular season next week against the Montreal Alouettes (8-8) while the Toronto Argonauts (7-9) host the Redblacks (2-15).
With the West Division having already claimed the cross-over playoff berth, only two of the teams in the East Division will make the playoffs.
"We need Toronto not to win out. We're pulling for a loss this weekend, honestly," Tiger-Cats coach Kent Austin said.
"All we can do is take care of what we can take care of and now that's winning next week regardless of what happens in Toronto and Montreal's game this weekend. We needed to put ourselves in a position to possibly challenge for the division and get the bye week, so we'll see what happens this weekend."
The teams traded field goals in the first half of the fourth quarter with Justin Medlock connecting from 28-yards to put the Tiger-Cats up 27-22 before Brett Maher hit from 42-yards to pull the Renegades to within two points at 27-25.
Then, with less than five minutes to play, while pinned deep in his own end, Burris threw an interception that Delvin Breaulx returned 26-yards for a touchdown.
That gave the Tiger-Cats a 34-25 lead and the rest was left up to their defence, who intercepted another Burris pass — this one in the end zone with less than two minutes to play.
"Our defence held strong when we had all the turnovers. Offensively we're moving the ball but we can't have that many turnovers. It's tough. We put ourselves in a hole and just couldn't get out of it," Redblacks guard Jon Gott said.
"We battled the whole way but we've got one more game. We'll come out and compete because we want to win. We're not here to give games away so we'll come out and put up a good fight."
Early in the third quarter the Tiger-Cats took their first lead as Medlock kicked a 22-yard field goal at 4:52 to put Hamilton up 17-15.
Jeremiah Johnson was quick to respond for the Redblacks, though, as his 26-yard touchdown run eight minutes into the third quarter put the Redblacks back on top 22-17.
The Redblacks were driving once again, but an interception return of 30 yards by Brandon Stewart put the Tiger-Cats on top again — this time 24-22 11 minutes into the quarter.
The Redblacks went into halftime with a 15-14 lead because of a defensive stand towards the end of the second quarter that not only kept the Tiger-Cats out of the end zone, but also drove them out of field goal range.
With the Redblacks driving inside the Hamilton end, O'Brien threw an interception that was returned 47 yards to the Ottawa 29 by Ed Gainy.
A penalty and a loss of 18-yards on a sack pushed the Tiger-Cats back to the Ottawa 44-yard line and then following an incomplete pass the Tiger Cats were forced to punt.
The Redblacks opened the scoring at 8:49 of the first quarter on a 39-yard single off a missed field goal from Maher following a drive that covered 42 yards on eight plays before stalling.
On their next series O'Brien took over for Burris for the first time and moved the ball well before getting injured. He did return later in the game.
Burris came back into the game and on the first play handed off to Johnson who ran in for the touchdown, giving the Redblacks an 8-0 advantage 13 minutes into the game.
The Tiger-Cats responded quickly in the second quarter when Brandon Banks teamed up with Collaros on a 13-yard catch-and-run touchdown at 3:40.
"There were plays that we needed. There was a big defensive stop at the end of the game, the defence came up with two big turnovers that put points on the board for us and that was huge with the offence struggling," Banks said.
"We have to win out to get to the playoffs so this was a huge win and hopefully we can carry it out to the next one and do the same thing."
The Redblacks regained an eight-point advantage just three minutes later when Matt Carter hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Burris.
In that same series Burris completed a 19-yard pass to Carter that put him over 55,000 passing yards for his career. He is third on the all-time list, still well back of the 79,816 yards of leader Anthony Calvillo.
The excitement over that accomplishment and the Redblacks recent score was quickly quieted as Banks scored his second touchdown of the half, this one a 103-yard kickoff return at 7:09, just 37 seconds after the Redblacks touchdown.