The Montreal Alouettes finished their regular season with a win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday afternoon at Percival Molson Stadium.
In a preview of the Eastern Semi-Final between these two teams next weekend, it was the home team that was victorious with a 22-20 victory.
Receiver Tyson Philpot scored a major on the Alouettes first possession of the ball game, while David Cote was good on two of three field goal attempts in the victory. Returner James Letcher Jr. also found the end zone, scoring on a punt return in the fourth quarter.
Cody Fajardo connected on six of eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown before stepping aside for Caleb Evans and eventually Davis Alexander. Evans finished the contest completing five of 10 passes for 30 yards while Alexander connected on five of six passes for 51 yards.
Bo Levi Mitchell and Taylor Powell both saw action for the Tiger-Cats behind centre. Mitchell completed five of 10 passes for 53 yards while Powell connected on 10 of 19 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions.
Sean Thomas Erlington scored a touchdown on the ground for Hamilton and Tyreik McAllister scored on a missed field goal return in the loss.
On the opening kickoff, Marc Antoine-Dequoy knocked the ball out of returner Tyreik McAllister‘s hands and Tysen-Otis Copeland recovered, giving the ball to Cody Fajardo instead of Bo Levi Mitchell to start the game.
Fajardo’s first pass was to Cole Spieker for 24 yards, pushing his team down to the Hamilton six-yard line. The next play was the game’s opening touchdown, a six-yard strike to Tyson Philpot in the back of the end zone for six. With the completed convert, the Alouettes took an early 7-0 lead.
Things slowed down in the next few series as the defences settled in and the teams traded two-and-outs as the first quarter continued.
Just as it looked like Montreal was going to be held to another two-and-out, head coach Jason Maas challenged that there was defensive pass interference on the play and it was successful, giving them a fresh set.
Dylan Wynn sacked Fajardo on first down, bringing up second and 20. The Als QB then tossed to Spieker and the receiver kicked the ball just past the the line of scrimmage, just as the team did a few weeks ago with Jeshrun Antwi, setting up an onside kick that he could recover himself for a first down. It didn’t amount to any points, however, as Montreal had to punt the all away.
On Hamilton’s next possession, Mitchell and co. were moving the chains and got down to Montreal’s 17-yard line. They finished the drive with a 24-yard Marc Liegghio field goal. A penalty on the field goal pushed things back five yards and Liegghio had to re-kick from 29 yards. His boot was good and cut the Alouettes lead to 7-3 with a just over a minute and half left in the first quarter.
Following an Als two-and-out, Montreal’s defence forced a turnover on the first play of the Ticats ensuing drive. Reggie Stubblefield knocked the ball out of Kiondre Smith’s and Darnell Sankey recovered the ball as the opening 15 minutes finished. David Cote attempted a 44-yard field goal but missed it and McAllister returned it 122 yards for a major score. Those six points, along with the convert, gave Hamilton their first lead of the afternoon (10-7).
A few possessions later for both teams, Cote attempted his second field goal of the afternoon, this time from 36 yards, and it was good. That tied the score 10-10 with six and half minutes left in the second frame.
That would be the final scoring play of the opening half as the teams headed to the locker room for the break.
Defences held strong to start the third quarter and four and a half minutes into the frame, Joseph Zema punted the ball through Hamilton’s end zone for a single point. The rouge broke the tie and put Montreal ahead, 11-10.
Taylor Powell, who replaced Mitchell for the second half, got into a rhythm moving down the field. Liegghio connected on his 33-yard field goal to finish the drive, taking the lead back from Montreal (13-11) with four and a half minutes left in the quarter.
Montreal scored to start the fourth quarter with a James Letcher Jr. punt returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Montreal went for two, and was successful, finding Spieker in the back corner of the end zone. That score increased the Alouettes lead to 19-13.
When Montreal hit the field on their next drive, Cote missed another field goal, this time from 50-yards out. The coverage unit was all over McAllister this time and did not allow the Ticats returner to take the miss to the house. Hamilton still held their one-point lead with just under seven minutes on the clock.
Montreal defensive back Kabion Ento hauled in his third interception of the season on Hamilton’s next possession. Powell looked for Terry Godwin but it tipped off the receiver’s fingers, off another Alouette defender’s helmet, and into Ento’s hands, who returned it to the Hamilton 52-yard line.
Davis Alexander, who replace Evans at quarterback earlier in the second half, took over and started moving down the field as the three minute warning approached, looking to take the lead back from Hamilton.
Cote’s 23-yard field goal attempt was good and Montreal took a 22-20 lead with a minute and a half left in the game.
The Als defence held strong, forcing the Tiger-Cats to go for it on third and 15 and an incompletion to Omar Bayless, who was covered by Ento, meant Hamilton turned the ball over on downs.
Montreal tried to run the clock out but had to punt the ball back to Hamilton with six second left. Sankey intercepted Powell’s hail Mary attempt to seal the deal.
Next up for these two clubs is the Eastern Semi-Final in Montreal on Saturday, November 4. Kickoff for the winner-takes-all contest is 3:00 p.m.