MONCTON – The Hamilton Tiger-Cats improved their record in Moncton to 2-0 as they topped the Montreal Alouettes 28-26 Saturday afternoon at Moncton Stadium.
Saturday’s contest was the fourth ever held in the Maritimes, and the third regular season game in Moncton in the last four years. The first was in Halifax on June 11, 2005 when the Tiger-Cats faced the Toronto Argonauts in a pre-season game.
Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris was making his second appearance at Touchdown Atlantic after playing with Calgary back in 2011.
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The Tiger-Cats offence, which has been firing on all cylinders for the majority of the season, seemed to be moving the ball with ease on their second possession of the game which opened the scoring. Burris connected with Onrea Jones twice – for 25 and 10 yards – to set up a 25-yard field goal by rookie Brett Lauther.
Lauther was making his pro debut in place of Luca Congi who had been demoted to the sidelines after missing two key field goals last week in Calgary and Kent Austin felt his team needed a boost in the kicking game.
On the ensuing Alouettes possession, Josh Neiswander put together his most impressive drive of his young career thus far. Starting in place of an injured Tanner Marsh, Neiswander engineered a 9-play, 80-yard march which was topped by a 33-yard touchdown pass to veteran slotback SJ Green.
Marsh was placed on the nine-game injured list before the game, making Neiswander the undisputed starter going forward.
Following the major though, Hamilton running back Kendial Lawrence fielded the kickoff and gave his team instant field positions, returning 60 yards and setting the Tiger-Cats up inside Montreal territory.
After a pair of first downs, the Als forced a stop and Lauther lined up for a chip-shot 10-yard field goal. They caught the Als off guard and Andy Fantuz, who was positioned as the holder, pitched the ball to veteran defender Marc Beswick, who fought his way through traffic briefly before waltzing into the endzone for a 10-7 Hamilton lead.
After forcing Burris to toss an interception earlier in the quarter, the Als got their second turnover of the contest when rookie defensive lineman Mike Klassen pounced on a Burris fumble which helped set up a Sean Whyte field goal from 32 yards out to tie the game at 10.
The Als defence has truly come into a zone in recent weeks and Klassen’s recovery was Montreal’s league-leading 35th takeaway of the season.
The Ticats would add a field goal just before halftime and the teams would head to the locker rooms with Hamilton up 13-10.
Neiswander and the Als went right to work as the third quarter go underway as the youngster found Eric Deslauriers for 31 yards while he led a six-play touchdown drive. A Troy Smith 1-yard plunge put the Als up 16-13 as they missed the extra point.
After Whyte added a 42-yard field goal to extend the lead to six, the Alouettes gave two points back after they conceded a safety on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Als dominated the majority of the previous frame but with one play, all the momentum shifted back to the Tiger-Cats.
With 12:06 remaining in the game, Als returner Tyron Carrier misjudged a punt and fumbled it only to have Ticats’ Louie Richardson pounce on the loose ball.
Three plays later, short-yardage quarterback Dan Lefevour punched it in from 1-yard out as the Ticats reclaimed the lead 22-19.
Lauther would add another field goal on the next possession to put the Tiger-Cats up by six with just over five minutes remaining.
Duron Carter added a 27-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left but it wasn’t enough for Montreal to pull off the comeback.
Next week the Tiger-Cats return to Guelph to host the West Division-leading Calgary Stampeders while the Alouettes host the Saskatchewan Roughriders.