HAMILTON — Henry Burris put together a vintage performance, throwing five touchdown passes to lead the Tiger-Cats to a 41-28 win over the Alouettes on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Burris finished the game with 326 yards, while Avon Cobourne had another solid performance against his former club, rushing for 111 yards on 19 carries.
It was also a special night for Andy Fantuz, who hauled in two touchdown passes on seven receptions for 98 receiving yards.
Tonight’s game was a crucial one for a variety of reasons for both clubs. With both teams splitting the two matchups prior to tonight’s final encounter, each team was hoping to get a firm grasp on the tie-breaker, and win the season-series in the process.
Heading into the Week 14 clash, the Als have had their fair share of troubles when playing at Ivor Wynne, as the team hasn’t won in Hamilton since the 2010 season.
Early on, it appeared as though their fortunes would continue to trend in a negative direction, with Hamilton’s offensive unit flexing its muscle early on.
After the Als played to a quick two-and-out on their opening possession, with Victor Anderson gaining just five yards on a run and Anthony Calvillo failing to connect on a pass with Brandon London, Burris took to the field hoping to get his team on the board.
And he did just that, orchestrating an impressive nine-play, 73-yard drive that was capped off by a five-yard strike to Andy Fantuz for the receiver’s fifth major of the season.
The score marked Hamilton’s first since Week 12, as they were shutout last week in a loss to the Blue Bombers.
But the Ticats didn’t stop there.
Following another uncharacteristically ineffective drive by the Als, Burris once again proved his worth under centre, leading a furious 12-play, 62-yard drive that ended with the 37-year-old pivot connecting with Chris Williams for a short strike in the endzone.
The major was Williams’ 13th of the season, extending his already comfortable lead in the category.
Montreal’s offence would not be denied for long, however, as the group took advantage of a fortunate turnover inside Hamilton’s red zone to get themselves back in the game.
With the second quarter barely underway, Ticats tailback Chevon Walker fumbled on his first touch of the game, with the ball eventually being recovered by the Alouettes.
Two plays later, with Montreal’s jumbo package in the game, a one-yard run by Adrian McPherson would cut Hamilton’s lead to one touchdown.
However, the Ticats would settle down and appear seemingly unfazed by the turnover on their ensuing possession.
Starting on Montreal’s 30-yard line thanks to a 57-yard kick return by Onrea Jones as well as a 10-yard illegal interference penalty by the Als’ Chris Jennings, the Ticats needed just two plays to restore their lead to 14.
Burris first hit Bakari Grant for a 22-yard reception to bring the drive inside Montreal’s 10-yard line, which was followed up by Fantuz’s second touchdown grab of the day, this time from eight yards out.
Big night for Fantuz
Tiger-Cats slotback Andy Fantuz had his best day in Black and Gold, hauling in seven passes for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Almost instantly, however, the Als would respond with a touchdown of their own.
However, seemingly on cue, the Ticats would continue the see-saw battle, as they managed to restore their two-touchdown lead on their very next possession.
Wasting absolutely no time, Burris completed three-straight passes, and ran for a 19-yard gain as well, before finding Dave Stala in the corner of the endzone for a sensational four-yard touchdown catch.
The Ticats would add to their lead as time expired in the first half, as Luca Congi split the uprights from 30 yards out, giving the Ticats a 31-14 lead.
Burris would finish the half 18 of 21 passing for 204 yards, while Calvillo threw just 10 passes for 98 yards and one touchdown.
The second half got underway with the Alouettes defence finally stopping Burris in his tracks, ultimately forcing the Ticats to send out the punt unit for the first time of the night.
Still down by two touchdowns, momentum continued to slowly shift in Montreal’s favour, as their defence sacked Burris for the second time of the quarter.
The Als’ defence continued to bring Burris down to earth, as linebacker Chip Cox intercepted the pivot well inside Hamilton territory for his second pick of the season.
However, the Als were unable to find the endzone, and come up with no points as they failed to generate a first down on a risky third-down attempt.
On that play, Calvillo’s pass up the middle was deflected as it crossed the line by Brandon Peguese.
But while the offences had their time to shine in the first half, the early parts of the second saw the defences continue to make their mark.
Having taken over from their own 14-yard line following Montreal’s turnover on downs, Burris was sacked yet again, this time for a four-yard loss by Rod Davis.
The Als would have another opportunity to generate some offence deep inside Hamilton’s endzone, thanks in large part to a 41-yard return by Trent Guy that allowed Calvillo to start his next possession inside the Hamilton 20-yard line.
But Montreal would run into some injury trouble, as running back Victor Anderson was forced out of the game with a reported right quad injury.
He was replaced by newly-signed Chris Jennings, who would make an impact on his very first drive as an Alouette.
The 27-year-old Arizona product had two-straight carries, the second of which he ran five yards into the endzone for his first CFL touchdown, bringing the Als within 10 points of Hamilton’s lead in the process.
However, Burris would finally breakthrough the Als defence in the second half, leading a seven-play, 75-yard drive that was punctuated by a 17-yard strike to Stala in the endzone for the QBs fifth TD pass of the game.
The major marked the first time Burris threw five touchdowns in a game since the 2008 season when he tossed five scores against the Blue Bombers.
With time winding down in the fourth quarter, the Ticats would pad their lead, as Congi connected on his second field goal of the night, this time from 14 yards out. The kick was the 21st-straight made field goal for the first-year Tiger-Cat.
But as they normally do, the Alouettes continued to make things interesting with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
Calvillo completed three consecutive passes to Richardson, Brandon London and Patrick Lavoie before finding S.J. Green for a 19-yard touchdown, cutting Hamilton’s lead to 13 points.
Next Week for Montreal: The Alouettes return home to Percival Molson Stadium where they will take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. BUY TICKETS. Next Week for Hamilton: Hamilton will head West for a clash with the Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium. BUY TICKETS.