HAMILTON - Zach Collaros set a new career-high for touchdown passes in a single game on Saturday, but it was news to him.
Collaros threw for five touchdowns as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hammered the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders 53-7.
"Yeah, is it?'' said Collaros when told post-game about his performance. "Cool.''
The 27-year-old QB was making his return to Tim Hortons Field after almost a year off recovering from a knee injury. It was just the tonic the Ticats needed after playing the last four games on the road.
They snapped a two-game losing streak by steamrolling the Roughriders in front of 24,166 fans. Hamilton improves to 4-4 and Saskatchewan falls to 1-7. Hamilton hadn't played at home since July 7.
"Any time you win, it's fun no matter how you get it done,'' Collaros said after completing 23-of-30 pass attempts for 381 yards, the five TDs and zero interceptions.
"I thought we had a pretty good week of practice and we executed well in the three facets of the game. That's what it takes to win.''
Chad Owens scored two TDs for Hamilton. Andy Fantuz, Brandon Banks, Terrence Toliver and Luke Tasker each scored one.
Hamilton kicker Brett Maher was three for three on field-goal attempts, hitting from 22, 12 and 16 yards. Saskatchewan kicker Tyler Crapigna hit both attempts, from 43 and 24 yards.
Collaros had returned to action last week on the road against the B.C. Lions, but that ended in a dramatic 45-38 loss after the Ticats had fought back from a 20-point deficit to tie it at 38 late.
Collaros said he was starting to see the field a little more clearly in his second game back.
"I saw things, I guess, better tonight and guys made plays. I had all the time in the world up front.''
In all, there were six passing TDs (backup Jeremiah Masoli recorded one) to five different receivers.
It didn't start perfectly. Collaros missed his targets in the end zone on the first drive and they had to settle for a field goal. And the game's first TD was a bit of a fluke. The ball sailed through the arms of intended target Tasker, was tipped by Saskatchewan defender Kacy Rodgers, and landed in the arms of Fantuz who ran it in for a 39-yard score.
"I've never had anything like that,'' Collaros said. "I'm just living right, man, I guess.''
Not surprisingly, coach Kent Austin was happy with how things went on both sides of the ball.
"I'm just really proud of the guys, after a tough game last time (versus B.C.) and to come back and respond,'' he said. ``They got back to work.
"The defence did a really good job of getting us the ball, and we did a really good job offensively of putting the ball in the end zone.''
Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant entered the game without having thrown an interception in 321 pass attempts, a league record. He threw four in this game, ending the streak at 323. He was replaced in the fourth by Mitchell Gale, who fumbled and threw an interception.
And for the record, Hamilton defensive end John Chick (a former long-time Roughrider) sacked his good friend twice.
Hamilton took a 27-4 lead into halftime. That was the Ticats' first halftime lead since July 15 against Montreal when they led 5-4.
Roughrider head coach Chris Jones was gracious in defeat.
"You have to give them a lot of credit,'' he said. "That's a fine football team over there in all three phases of the game.''
And he kept things positive about his struggling squad.
"Those young men have heart and we won't quit,'' he said.
"We will look at the film. Work on things. They did some good things. When we look at the film, we will spot (them).''
Hamilton is on the road next week in Calgary while Saskatchewan is in Edmonton.
CHRIS JONES POSTGAME NOTES/COMMENTS
- It was tough. First half we killed ourselves with penalties. 11 I think. We had some opportunitiies defensively but didn't come up with the plays. If we did, it would've been a different half. In the second half we turned it over. Against a good team, that's not going to give you a good record.
- The CFL's put this new rule (PI) in. This is what they wanted. Sometimes they go your way. Right now it seems nothing's going our way. We have to keep grinding. I know the hearts in the room and how much it means to them. They know how much it means to the people of our province. Eventually it'll fall in place. We got a lotta young kids.
- The kids Ford, and Holley played well. #30 ran tough and Holley, except for a drop, was solid. We have to go back to the drawing board and see what we can learn going into next week.
- Zach did a real nice job moving around in the pocket. We failed to run some of our things accurately and acutely. If we had, we could've got him on the ground. We have to go back and teach and coach it better, and maybe be able to execute it better. On the flipside, with only 7 points, we have to look at what we can do better offensively.
- Next week with Edmonton, they're very solid and they're coming off a very big win today. We have our work cut out for us. We just have to go back to the grindstone.