By a matter of inches, Lewis Ward’s last-second 54-yard field goal was no good in the Ottawa Redblacks’ week six visit to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
In its lifetime, Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton has become notorious for offering kickers a difficult time converting on their kicks, and although the wind was relatively calm at the time of the kick, it still offered some problems. The Tiger-Cats elected to kick off to start both the first and second half, and opted to have the wind at their backs in the fourth quarter. Fast forward to the final drive, the Redblacks had a choice, either throw a hail mary, or ask Ward to attempt a kick outside of his range, albeit only slightly.
Ward, who has now converted on just over 81 percent of his kicks in 2022, gave the ball a good ride from 54-yards out, but came up just short on what would have sent the Redblacks to 1-4 on the season, rather than their current 0-5 record.
“I think if we were about a yard up [I could have made it],” Ward said. “Looking on film, he caught it behind the goalpost in the endzone, so another half of a yard and it hits the crossbar, and another yard and it goes over.”
“We were going into a slight wind there, and it was further than I had hit in warmup,” he continued. “Before every game, I give coach Dyce numbers for certain game situations if we need it, and he came up to me during that last drive and asked me where we need to get to. We agreed that we needed to get to the 45, but we were a yard short. As a guestimate, I think we were pretty bang on, and the coaching staff didn’t have any hesitation for trusting me to go out there and at least try to hit that.”
“I don’t think I could have hit a better ball. It was a 10 out of 10 field goal, it was just that one yard too short.”
Related: CFL Power Rankings – Week 6
Down by two points, the game rested on the right foot of the 29-year-old kicker, but Ward says that he hasn’t felt the blame placed on his shoulders, and the locker room has been supportive of him after the effort.
“We had the chance, and you could see in film there were guys with their arms in the air, it was that close,” Ward said. “You look at the Hamilton bench, and they all thought it was good. Nobody in the locker room had anything negative to say about that. I had guys come up and they were saying how good of a kick it was, some guys saying we just needed that one extra yard, and I don’t believe anyone in that locker room puts the blame on any one single person.”
“It doesn’t really matter,” continued Ward. “Offence, defence, special teams, as a whole, it was one of those games where we were there, and that’s probably the more disappointing part about it.”
Redblacks head coach Paul LaPolice shared his disappointment with the loss in its entirety, but made a point of mentioning that the game wasn’t lost solely on the back of a missed field goal. There was more to it, but it was a big moment, and therefore won’t be forgotten.
“There’s a disappointment in [coming just short],” LaPolice said, measuring a few inches with his fingers. “There’s more to it than [a few inches]. There are a million things that went into [a few inches]. We make that [kick], and all of a sudden, everyone is ecstatic. That was the message today of where we have to improve.”
Although Ward isn’t beating himself up over the missed kick at the end of the game, he’s not happy with his performance. He attempted three field goals during the game, and he missed two of them. The first miss of the game came midway through the first quarter, and was a 50-yard kick.
“That’s the more disappointing kick,” Ward admitted. “It was one that I hit in warmup. There was a bit of a wind crossing to the right, which is where it missed. I should have played it a little bit better. When you hit a kick that is out to the right like that and you have wind going that way, you kinda leave it up to no chance. That would be the more disappointing kick for sure.”
The confidence in Ward hasn’t waivered in the locker room, and nor has Ward’s confidence in himself. After the missed kick, Richie Leone gave Ward a hug at the middle of the field, and both are ready to leave the miss in the past.
Subscribe to 13th Man Sports to get email notifications when we post!