HAMILTON – The Hamilton Tiger-Cats defense held up late in the game and the Montreal Alouettes lost 24-17 on Thursday night.
The Alouettes (2-5) had one last chance to force overtime, with just eight seconds left in the game, but Dominique Davis was the victim of an interception.
Davis entered the field cold after Trevor Harris was called to the sidelines by an independent observer for a tackle behind the head in the previous play.
The Montreal team missed a great opportunity to join the Toronto Argonauts in first place in the East Division and distance themselves from the Tiger-Cats (2-5).
Lack of opportunism sinks the Alouettes
Harris, one of the last week’s players in the CFL, and his offense have been slow to find their groove. The Birds quarterback completed 25 of 41 passes for 288 yards, including a touchdown pass.
Eugene Lewis was Harris’ prime target, catching eight passes for 154 yards. Hergy Mayala caught a touchdown pass for Danny Maciocia’s men.
Dane Evans had 13 of 18 attempts from the air caught for 206 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Steven Dunbar Jr. Don Jackson and Jamie Newman had a ground major for the Tiger-Cats.
The Alouettes will have a tough job next Thursday as they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the two-time defending Gray Cup champions who are still undefeated this season.
The late awakening
The Alouettes’ defense thought it had set the tone when Tyrice Beverette lost the ball to Tim White on the Tiger-Cats’ third offensive play, but the command center changed the decision for an incomplete pass.
Both teams continued to struggle to generate offense until Chandler Worthy punted from 40 yards to put the Alouettes in good position on the field. David Côté completed the streak with a 16-yard field goal late in the first quarter.
The Tiger-Cats replied early in the second quarter, through former Alouettes player Matthew Shiltz. The latter ran for 30 yards and completed three passes for 24 yards, setting the table for Newman’s major ground court.
From the series on the next attack, the Montreal troupe went for two first tries before stopping at the line of 36 of the Tiger-Cats. Côté cut the deficit to 7-6 on a field goal from 44 yards.
The Alouettes fall back into bad habits
Before the end of the first half, Seth Small fired a 30-yard field goal to give the home team a 10-6 lead and Côté sent the ball wide on a 51-yard field goal attempt, in the last seconds.
The Tiger-Cats started the second half with a bang. After forcing their opponents to punt after two unproductive plays, Evans threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dunbar.
The Tiger-Cats defense immediately muzzled the Alouettes and the offense picked up where it had left off by scoring another major a few minutes later. Evans threw a pass into the end zone to Dunbar, who was obstructed by Rodney Randle Jr. The ball was placed at the one-yard line and after a failed sneak attempt by Newman, Jackson made it 23-6 before Small converted.
The Alouettes showed signs of life before the end of the third quarter. Christophe Normand made a trick play of 21 yards during a fake punt to continue the attack of his team. Seven plays later, Côté had a 17-yard field goal.
The visitors added as soon as the Tiger-Cats regained the ball. Dunbar grabbed a pass from Evans, but was tackled hard by Mike Jones and Marc-Antoine Dequoy recovered the fumble.
Harris then orchestrated a fine offensive series in which he joined Lewis for a 45-yard play. The Montreal quarterback capped it off by throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to Mayala. Jeshrun Antwi closed the gap to 24-17 when he crossed the goal line on the two-point convert.
Tyson Philpot, one of the Birds’ first-round picks in the last CFL Draft, then dazzled by sneaking through the Tiger-Cats defense to record a 58-yard punt return. His side, however, couldn’t find the end zone despite the favorable position on the pitch.