MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 36-29 on Thursday night, winning their first game of the 2019 campaign.
Montreal put on a show for Alouettes fans who showed up to Percival Molson Stadium for the team’s home opener with impressive outings from their quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and running back William Stanback.
Stanback had an exceptional game for the Als, finding the end zone three times and accumulating 203 yards on the ground. He became the first Alouette running back to surpass 200 rushing yards since Mike Pringle did so in 1998. He also hauled in 46 yards through the air.
Adams Jr. scored a rushing touchdown, connected on 14 of 25 passes and threw for 202 yards. His counterpart Jeremiah Masoli threw for 401 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Tiger-Cats.
Ticats reciever Jaelon Acklin hauled in eight passes for a game-high 120 yards, followed by Brandon Banks who caught seven passes for 86 yards.
With Sean Thomas Erlington leaving the game in the first quarter, former Argonaut Anthony Coombs found himself involved in the offence, accumulating six carries for 51 yards and hauling in five passes for 61 yards through the air.
The win also marked head coach Khari Jones’ first as Montreal’s bench boss as the Alouettes improved to 1-2 on the season.
The Montreal Alouettes struck first on Thursday night. A 46-yard gain from William Stanback moved the Als to the Hamilton seven-yard line but the Ticats defence kept the home team out of the end zone. Boris Bede made his 10-yard field goal, as Montreal settled for three points.
Montreal’s start to the game was as hot as the weather, and it continued on the Ticats first offensive drive. First, the defence stuffed Sean Thomas Erlington for no gain. Then Masoli tossed an interception to Glenn Love, who picked off the pass intended for Brandon Banks.
And that turnover turned into six points, as Stanback pushed himself into the end zone for the major score. The 11-play, 52-yard drive, along with Bede’s convert, gave the Alouettes a 10-0 lead with just over seven minutes left in the first quarter.
There was bad news for the Ticats on their next possession, however, as Thomas Erlington had to be carried off the field by his teammates. He suffered a lower body injury after taking a hit from Tommie Campbell and did not return.
Jaelon Acklin scored the opening points for the Ticats, the receiver’s first CFL touchdown. He hauled in a Masoli pass right at the corner pylon, showing great concentration to keep his feet in bounds for the score. Hamilton attempted a two-point convert, Masoli kept and tried to find the end zone himself, but it was unsuccessful. The seven-play, 54-yard scoring drive saw back-to-back catches from Luke Tasker, who missed the last two games with in injury, and cut the Alouettes lead to 10-6.
Hajrullahu booted a 36-yard field goal for Hamilton to make it a one-point game to start the second quarter.
The Ticats made the Alouettes pay for a turnover later in the quarter as Ja’Gared Davis came up with a Stanback fumble. The Tabbies moved down the field quickly, aided by a 59-yard gain to a wide-open Mike Jones, to set up a 26-yard field goal from Hajrullahu. That score put Hamilton ahead of Montreal 12-10 with just over eight minutes left in the first half.
Hajrullahu tacked on another field goal as the second quarter clock ticked down, extending the Tiger-Cats lead to 15-10.
Montreal countered with a field goal of their own as Bede connected on his 43-yard attempt. Hamilton still led 15-12 with under two minutes to go. And the final drive of the first half ended with yet another field goal, this one was a 14-yarder from Hajrullahu, to extend the Ticats lead to 18-10.
Adams Jr. and the Alouettes started the second half moving the chains down the field. But they had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Bede instead of a touchdown, cutting Hamilton’s lead to 18-16.
Montreal continued to push against the Tiger-Cats, stringing together drives in the third quarter and not allowing Hamilton to get any offence generated.
A defensive pass interference call against Tunde Adeleke, who was covering Quan Bray in the end zone, brought the Alouettes down to Hamilton’s one-yard line. Adams Jr.’s first attempt to sneak in was unsuccessful and on the second attempt, the Als pivot tossed to Stanback in the back field and the tailback ran in to score his second touchdown of the night.
That score, and an unsuccessful two-point convert, gave the Alouettes the lead back (22-18) with just under three minutes left in the third frame.
The Alouettes defence stood strong, holding Hamilton’s offence off the scoreboard complete in the third quarter.
To start the final frame, head coach Khari Jones challenged that there was defensive pass interference against Delvin Breaux, who was covering Eugene Lewis in the end zone, and the challenge was successful, bringing the Alouettes down to the one-yard line once again.
Adams Jr. plunged into the end zone for the score, capping off a three-play, 50-yard drive. Bede connected on his point-after and Montreal extended their lead to 29-18.
After Hamilton was held to a two-and-out, the Alouettes kept the momentum going. The offence was moving and Adams Jr. tossed a 35-yard bomb to Lewis, bringing the Als down into the Ticats five-yard line. Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer challenged the catch and his challenge was successful. It was ruled that Lewis did not have possession of the ball before falling out of bounds and the Alouettes had to move back.
But that didn’t stop the Alouettes from continuing their drive.
Stanback continued to dominate the game, scoring his third touchdown on the night two plays later. The 21-yard run, and the point-after, increased the Alouettes lead to 36-18 with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Tiger-Cats weren’t ready to give up just yet. Masoli connected with rookie Marcus Tucker, who ran into the end zone untouched for the major score. Tucker caught the two-point convert and the Ticats cut the Alouettes lead to 36-26.
Hamilton added another field goal, cutting Montreal’s lead to 36-29 with 1:03 left in the game.
That would be the final scoring play of the night, as the Alouettes won their first of the 2019 campaign while the Tiger-Cats dropped their first of the year.
Next up for the Montreal Alouettes is a matchup against the REDBLACKS in Ottawa while the Tiger-Cats host the Calgary Stampeders.