Ex-Tiger-Cats QB Masoli could have a Tim Hortons Field return, just not this week


Published July 11, 2022 at 5:46 pm

A quarterback matchup between Dane Evans and Jeremiah Masoli in Hamilton is off until at least this fall.

Instead, it may be Evans and — Nick Arbuckle? Caleb Evans? Tyrie Adams? — behind centre in the Break The Donut Bowl between the Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Redblacks at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday. Masoli suffered a leg injury thanks a late, low cheap shot by defensive lineman Gabriel Marino in Regina last week, meaning the veteran QB will miss the Ottawa-Hamilton matchup at Tim Hortons Field (Saturday, 5 p.m., TSN/RDS/Ticats Audio Network). Masoli spent eight seasons with the Tiger-Cats, but signed with the provincial-rival Redblacks last year after Hamilton opted to go forward with Evans as their No. 1 quarterback.

Per a report from TSN, Masoli is not out for the entire season, but will need a “bone-based surgical procedure” that will keep him from playing for 10 to 12 weeks. That timeline leaves the door open to him facing his former team this season, since the Redblacks and Tiger-Cats have a home-and-home series in the final two weeks of the regular season in late October. Both current 0-4 teams have some work to do in order for those games to acquire playoff implications.

In need of a relatively seasoned arm, the Redblacks acquired Arbuckle from the Edmonton Elks on Monday. Arbuckle was out of favour in Edmonton, which has been using two younger QBs, including Niagara Falls native Tre Ford.

The hit by Marino on Masoli during the Redblacks-Saskatchewan Roughriders game, and the lineman’s celebrations afterward, have sparked calls for a multi-game suspension. Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson told the media after the game “that was not the way I want to see us win games.” The Roughriders’ highest-paid wide receiver, Duke Williams, called the hit and antics from Marino “unacceptable.”

Last October, Marino was also fined for an unnecessary roughness after an illegal hit on the then-Ticats QB.

Redblacks wide receiver Nate Behar said Marino used racial slurs on the field before the latest controversial play that injured Masoli. The quarterback’s mother, Linda Masoli, repeated that allegation in a Twitter post on Monday.

In the meantime, Ottawa (0-4) and Hamilton (0-4) are both desperate for win. The matchup of winless teams begins a stretch where the Tiger-Cats — who have been outscored 83-22 in second halves this season — play seven out of eight games against East Division opponents.

It will be the first game back in Hamilton for Redblacks wide reciever Jaelon Acklin. Acklin shared the Ticats’ team lead in receiving touchdowns last season, and was an East Division all-star in 2019.

Hamilton has had a bye week to buy time to fix the underlying issues that have caused the Evans-led offence to rank last in the CFL in yards per play (5.3) and second-last in second-down conversions (38.5 per cent).

Besides Arbuckle, Evans is the most CFL-experienced quarterback Ottawa has on the roster. However, Ottawa is seventh in scoring (18.3 points). The Redblacks average a respectable 6.4 yards per play, but their defence is allowing 6.8, second-worst in the league. The only team that is more porous on a per-play basis is Edmonton, whose only win so far was against Hamilton on July 1.

Evans and Masoli split starts during the COVID-compacted 2021 season. Both ended up having sparkling relief efforts during the final two games of the season.

Evans came off the bench in the second quarter during Hamilton’s win at Toronto in the East Division final. That got him the nod to start in the Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field. However, when Hamilton was slow to get untracked, Masoli came on and Hamilton nearly upset the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before losing 33-25 in overtime. Over the winter, Hamilton re-signed Evans and Masoli signed on in Ottawa.

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