HAMILTON — Defensive back Kameron Kelly intercepted a pass on the final play as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats held off the Montreal Alouettes for a 24-17 win on Thursday night at Tim Hortons Field.
The Als made it a seven-point game late in the fourth quarter after scoring 11 unanswered points, but Hamilton’s defence shut down the late comeback attempt.
Ticats quarterback Dane Evans finished with 206 yards and one touchdown while completing 13 of 18 passes.
Steven Dunbar Jr. led Hamilton in receiving with 102 yards on five catches — including his league-leading fifth touchdown of the season on a 40-yard catch-and-run.
Backup Hamilton quarterback Jamie Newman scored his first career CFL touchdown on a one-yard rush.
Harris completed 25 of 41 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown in the win, while Montreal receiver Eugene Lewis led all players with 154 yards on eight grabs.
Hamilton’s defence finished with five sacks while forcing seven punts.
Both defences started strong, with both teams punting three times to open the first quarter. But return specialist Chandler Worthy gave Montreal a boost of momentum late in the quarter with a 40-yard punt return, bringing the ball down to Hamilton’s 25-yard line. Hamilton’s defence prevented the drive from reaching the end zone, and Montreal opted to take the lead with a 16-yard field goal from David Côté.
Hamilton’s offence responded with a solid drive that saw backup quarterback Matthew Shiltz get things started with a 30-yard run. Running back Don Jackson followed it up with a 16-yard catch-and-run to set up first-and-goal, and receiver Bralon Addison moved the ball down to the goal line on a screen pass.
Quarterback Jamie Newman capped the drive off with a one-yard rushing touchdown, and Seth Small kicked the convert to give Hamilton a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Côté made it a one-point game later in the quarter with a 44-yard field goal.
Ticats defensive lineman Micah Johnson came up with a big sack in Montreal territory in the final minutes of the half, which led to the the Als punting from their own 20-yard line. Evans connected with receiver Tyler Ternowski for a 35-yard gain on the next play, but Montreal’s defence stood strong to force another field goal attempt. Small made the 30-yard kick to extend Hamilton’s lead to four points entering the second half.
Dunbar extended Hamilton’s lead in the third quarter by turning a short catch into a 40-yard touchdown, as he made a defender miss before taking it all the way to the end zone behind solid blocking. Small kicked the convert to give Hamilton a 17-6 lead.
A costly Montreal defensive pass interference penalty led to another Ticats touchdown on their next drive, as Als defensive back Rodney Randle Jr. was flagged for interfering with Dunbar in the end zone following a successful challenge from Hamilton. The ball was placed at the one-yard line, and Jackson finished the drive off by muscling his way into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown run. Small added the extra point to put Hamilton up 24-6.
Côté moved the Als closer with a 17-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and their defence seized momentum on the ensuing drive when cornerback Mike Jones forced a fumble with a hit on Dunbar. Fellow defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy recovered the ball for Montreal, and the offence followed it up with a big play of their own the very next play.
Harris connected with Lewis down the field for a beautiful 45-yard catch, as the veteran receiver leaped into the air to make the grab over defensive back Jumal Rolle. Harris moved Montreal closer to the end zone with four straight completions, and he finished the drive off with a four-yard touchdown pass to receiver Hergy Mayala over the middle. Montreal opted to go for the two-point conversion to make it a seven-point game, and running back Jeshrun Antwi made it count by carrying the ball over the goal line.
The Alouettes will also kick off Week 9 when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, while the Tiger-Cats will travel to take on the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. ET.