Ticats get back on track with key divisional win

HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats held on for a pivotal 24-17 win in a divisional battle with the Montreal Alouettes in Week 8, moving them into a tie with the Als for second place in the East Division at 2-5.

Despite the rough start to the season, the Ticats have a chance to right the ship and climb the standings as they prepare for five straight divisional games — including four against the division-leading Toronto Argonauts.

“We just needed to get this win,” quarterback Dane Evans told TSN after the game. “We’ve got a lot of games against the East in a row. No matter what’s happened in the past, we can kind of right some wrongs right now. It was great to get this first one.”

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Hamilton’s defence led the way against Montreal with five sacks while only surrendering one touchdown. They prevented a fourth-quarter comeback by forcing a turnover on downs and then intercepting a pass in the red zone on the final play, as defensive back Kameron Kelly picked off Dominique Davis.

“We’re a band of brothers,” Kelly told TSN after the win. “Regardless of how the season’s going, we wanted to stay together. We knew we were just going to grind it out, and I’m glad we were able to finish.”

While head coach Orlondo Steinauer acknowledged there is still a lot of work to do, he told reporters after the game that he likes the direction his team is heading. The Ticats have now won two of their last three games after starting the season 0-4.

“The difference is we found a way to win when we hadn’t found a way up to this point very often,” Steinauer said.

“We’re playing a little bit better complimentary football. We haven’t arrived, but we’re growing and we’re building,”

Along with the standout defensive performance, Hamilton also presented an interesting look on offence with all three quarterbacks getting involved. Evans played the majority of the game and threw his ninth touchdown pass of the season, but backups Matthew Shiltz and Jamie Newman also made an impact against Montreal.

Shiltz, a former Alouette, led Hamilton in rushing with a game-high 42 yards — including a 30-yard run that helped set up Newman’s first career CFL touchdown. The 24-year-old rookie punched in a goal line rushing touchdown to give Hamilton a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Shiltz also completed seven of ten passes for 44 yards in the win.

When asked about sharing time under centre after the game, Evans said he was just happy to get the victory, regardless of who is out there making the plays.

“I want to win. I don’t care, it’s the same thing. I’ll go in there and play running back or whatever. I think Matt’s the exact same way,” Evans told TSN. “We’ve got a really good quarterback room, and you saw Jamie get to get in on the short yardage too. I don’t care who does it or how we do it — if we get the win, I’m a happy guy.”

Hamilton will next face the rival Argos on the road at BMO Field in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. ET.

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