Late-game touchdown propels Tiger-Cats past Lions in CFL thriller

BC Lions quarterback Mike Reilly, 13, gets a throw off before being tackled by Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence during second half CFL football game action in Hamilton, Ont., on Saturday, August 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat Saturday night after pulling off an incredible 35-34 come-from-behind win over the B.C. Lions.

Dane Evans threw the go-ahead 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Banks with 1:02 left in the game as Hamilton improved to a CFL-best 6-2 on the season while earning its fifth straight win at Tim Hortons Field.

The loss dropped B.C. to a league-worst 1-7.

Evans completed 23 of his 32 pass attempts on the night for 260 yards and two TDs, the first of which also ended up in the hands of Banks on the Ticats’ first drive of the game.

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Banks made a game-high nine receptions for 137 yards and now leads the league with 51 catches and 691 receiving yards.

The Cats were also powered by the special-teams exploits of return man Frankie Williams, who returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown with 5:35 to play in the first half, setting a new CFL record for most kickoff returns for a TD (nine) in a season.

Williams’ 57-yard punt return to the B.C. 23-yard line with 1:32 to play set up Hamilton’s game-winning score.

The Canadian Football League sophomore from Purdue University also returned a punt for an 81-yard touchdown in the second quarter but it was called back by an illegal block penalty.

Lions running back John White had 124 rushing yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns of 20 yards and two yards.

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B.C. quarterback Mike Reilly went 21-for-28 for 306 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, and he also ran for a one-yard TD in the third quarter that gave the Lions a 27-19 lead.

The Lions appeared to be on their way to their second win of the season after taking a 34-19 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when Reilly tossed his second major of the game to receiver Bryan Burnham, who finished the contest with seven catches for a game-high 149 yards and two scores.

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Hamilton’s defence recorded four sacks (Ja’Gared Davis had two, with the others by Ted Laurent and Dylan Wynn) and got interceptions from Tunde Adeleke and Richard Leonard.

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The Cats were penalized 14 times for 109 yards while B.C. was called for six infractions for 53 yards.

The win moves Hamilton six points clear of Montreal and Ottawa for top spot in the East Division. The Tiger-Cats visit the Redblacks on Aug. 17.

At halftime, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame honoured 2019 inductees Jon Cornish, Mervyn Fernandez, Terry Greer, Jim Hopson, Ernie Pitts Jr., Frank Smith and David Williams.

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