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Ford leads Edmonton Elks past Ticats for first win of CFL season

Playing at Tim Hortons Field agrees with Tre Ford.

Playing at Tim Hortons Field agrees with Tre Ford.

Ford threw two touchdown passes as Edmonton defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24-10 for its first win of the season. And the Elks had to wait for it as the contest was delayed 90 minutes to start the second half due to lightning.

Edmonton (1-9) snapped a club record-tying 13-game winless streak. And Ford, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., earned his second career victory as a CFL starter at Tim Hortons Field.

Last year, the ‘21 Hec Crighton Trophy winner from the University of Waterloo guided Edmonton to a 29-24 road victory over Hamilton in his first CFL start.

“I love coming back here and playing,” said Ford. “Family and friends all come out to support me.

“I didn’t really get to see them all after the game, which is just kind of unfortunate. Maybe next year come back, get another win and another chance for some photos.”

The win comes after a tumultuous seven days for the Elks. Last Thursday, Edmonton surged to a 22-0 lead against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, only to have backup Dru Brown rally the defending West Division champions for a 38-29 road victory.

Then on Tuesday, president/CEO Victor Cui and the community-owned club mutually parted ways. But Ford said despite the turmoil and mounting losses, it hasn’t been tough for Elks players to stay positive.

“I know the guys we have in our room are good dudes and have good character,” Ford said. “Just going out and practising with them every day, it’s good, I have fun.

“I generally enjoy going out there and practising and playing football so there’s definitely a lot of positives to be a quarterback of a professional football team.”

Edmonton head coach/GM Chris Jones wasn’t immediately available following the game.

But the delay caused issues for Ford.

“It was definitely an adjustment for me just trying to stay loose, stay in it mentally and also trying to keep the team engaged,” he said. “I was just doing a little stretching and watching some stuff on the iPad, looking at some of the plays.

“I’m definitely not a huge fan of (long delays). I don’t like them so hopefully we don’t have any more of those.”

Neither team was sharp offensively in the second half as Edmonton outscored Hamilton 3-1.

Edmonton’s defence did its part with seven sacks. But the Elks still have a CFL-record 22-game home losing streak to deal with heading into next week’s contest versus the Ottawa Redblacks at Commonwealth Stadium.

“It (the win) is definitely a big one,” Ford said. “I think this is going to help us start to turn our season around and I think we can definitely build around this and continue to get wins.

“We have some head-to-head games with some teams that we need to beat in order to get into the playoffs. We’re just giving ourselves the best chance to get there.”

Ford finished 13-of-18 passing for 174 yards and the two TD passes, both to former Ticat Steven Dunbar Jr. Ford also ran seven times for 60 yards while Kevin Brown rushed for a team-high 89 yards on 16 carries.

Hamilton (3-6) suffered its first loss in seven games coming off a bye week. The Ticats also fell to 1-4 this season at Tim Hortons Field, to the dismay of the announced gathering of 20,192 that thinned out significantly once action resumed.

“We’re not a football team that is not going blow people out,” said Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer. “That’s proven, currently.

“We’re going to have to find a way to win close games.”

Rookie Taylor Powell completed 20-of-26 passes for 217 yards. James Butler ran for 115 yards and a TD on 14 carries while Tim White had nine catches for 101 yards.

Hamilton pulled to within 21-10 on Marc Liegghio’s single off a missed 33-yard field goal try at 2:04 of the fourth. It was Liegghio’s third miss in four attempts in the game to go with an unsuccessful convert.

Dean Faithful’s 18-yard field goal at 6:08 boosted Edmonton’s lead to 24-10.

Hamilton appeared to make it a one-score game in the third on Tyreik McAllister’s 56-yard punt-return TD at 6:52. But it came back due to a holding penalty.

Hamilton then drove to the Edmonton 24-yard line but Liegghio missed from 43 yards out.

At halftime, Hamilton added former receiver Darren Flutie to its Wall of Honour. Flutie, 56, appeared in 86 games over five seasons with the Ticats, registering 405 catches for 5,796 yards and 26 TDs, helping the franchise win a Grey Cup in 1999 — its last CFL championship.

Taylor Cornelius had Edmonton’s other touchdown. Faithful added three converts.

Liegghio finished with one field goal.

Liegghio’s surprising 20-yard foot on the final play of the first half cut Edmonton’s half-time lead to 21-9. Hamilton drove from its 20-yard line to the Edmonton 12 but with nine seconds remaining the Ticats opted to kick rather than take a shot at the end zone despite having two timeouts, drawing loud boos from the home crowd.

“We didn’t want the clock to run out,” Steinauer said. “Simple.”

Ford found Dunbar Jr. on a nine-yard TD pass at 7:54 of the second to extend Edmonton’s lead to 21-6.

Cornelius’s one-yard run at 4:14 of the second put Edmonton ahead 14-6. It came three plays after Cornelius hit defensive lineman A.C. Leonard on a 45-yard completion on second-and-one following Liegghio’s 35-yard kickoff.

Butler’s two-yard run just 12 seconds into the quarter pulled Hamilton to within 7-6. Liegghio missed the convert.

Ford hit Dunbar on a 29-yard TD strike at 13:48 of the first to open the scoring.