Lirim Hajrullahu hit a 29-yard field goal on the game’s final play to rally the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to an improbable 25-24 home win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday.
Edmonton (6-4) used a 24-point second quarter to take a 14-point half-time advantage. And the Eskimos led 24-13 lead heading into the fourth.
But Hamilton (4-6) got cranked up in the final quarter. Jeremiah Masoli’s 84-yard completion to Mike Jones put the Ticats at the Edmonton 21, setting up Lirim Hajrullahu’s 28-yard field goal at 9:38 that cut the Eskimos lead to 24-16.
Masoli hit Luke Tasker with a 51-yard touchdown pass on third-and-2 at 12:23 to pull Hamilton to within 24-22 as the two-point convert was unsuccessful. That made a missed Hajrullahu 41-yard field goal attempt earlier in the quarter loom large.
With 1:32 remaining, Masoli took over at Hamilton’s 38-yard line and moved the Ticats to the Edmonton 21, where Hajruallhu had a final chance to make up for his earlier miss. With the game on the line, the veteran kicker connected.
That gave the Ticats a second win in as many games versus Edmonton. Hamilton opened its season June 22 with a 38-21 win at Commonwealth Stadium.
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Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Eskimos in 2018.
Hamilton was coming off a 29-23 road loss to Winnipeg on Aug. 10 and improved to 4-9 following a bye week since 2011. The Ticats are now 2-2 at home, to the delight the Tim Hortons Field gathering of 23,281 and are alone in second in the East, two points ahead of Toronto (3-5), which faces Montreal (1-8) on Friday.
Edmonton remains second in the West Division, two points behind Calgary (7-1), which plays Winnipeg (5-4) on Saturday.
At halftime, former rush end Joe Montford was inducted into Hamilton’s Wall of Fame. Montford, three times the CFL’s top defensive player and a two-time Grey Cup champion, played eight of his 12 CFL seasons with Hamilton and the Canadian Football of Hall of Famer recorded 115 of his 135 career sacks in 141 games with the Ticats.
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Derel Walker, with two, and D’haquille Williams scored Edmonton’s touchdowns. Sean Whyte had three converts and a field goal.
Alex Green had Hamilton’s other touchdown. Hajrullahu booted the converts and four field goals.
Hamilton could’ve used Montford’s pass-rushing prowess in the second quarter as Reilly anchored Edmonton’s 24-point outburst with three TD passes. His 17-yard strike to Walker at 14:48 staked the Eskimos to a 24-10 half-time lead and was set up by Josh Woodman’s interception.
The drive was also aided by a 39-yard passs interference penalty against Hamilton’s Mariel Cooper.
Hamilton committed three first-half turnovers (two interceptions, fumble). Edmonton converted two into TDs, prompting the Ticats’ faithful to boo their team off the field to end the half.
Reilly used his legs and arm to put Edmonton ahead 17-10 at 12:33. After scrambling to elude the pass rush, Reilly found Williams downfield for a 95-yard touchdown.
Williams, flagged for objectionable conduct last week against Montreal for his TD celebration, sat in the endzone with teammates and played hot potato with the ball. Afterwards, Natey Adjei grabbed a television microphone and began interviewing Williams.
Earlier on Thursday, the CFL announced it was relaxing its policy on endzone celebrations and allowing players to use on-field props.
Reilly’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Walker at 8:54 tied the score 10-10 and it came two plays after Woodman recovered Brandon Banks’ fumble at the Hamilton 36-yard line. Whyte’s 52-yard field goal at 7:39 cut the Ticats’ lead lead to 10-3.
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Green opened the scoring with a 10-yard TD run at 7:38 of the first, capping an 83-yard, nine-play drive. Hajrullahu connected from 25 yards out at 13:06 to put Hamilton ahead 10-0.
© 2018 The Canadian Press