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Rick Zamperin: ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Hamilton Tiger-Cats find a way to win

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats became the first team in the CFL this season to clinch a playoff spot after beating the Edmonton Eskimos 30-27 Friday night.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats became the first team in the CFL this season to clinch a playoff spot after beating the Edmonton Eskimos 30-27 Friday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Friday night’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was a spectacle, to say the least.

Quarterback Dane Evans and the Ticats offence blew the doors wide open in what was Hamilton’s most prolific first quarter of the 2019 CFL season by scoring three touchdowns to race out to a commanding 21-0 lead.

Evans to Brandon Banks for a 42-yard score, Evans to Marcus Tucker for a 41-yard touchdown, Evans to Bralon Addison for a 76-yard strike, and the Edmonton Eskimos were left bewildered on home turf.

READ MORE: Hamilton Tiger-Cats blow 24-0 lead, still beat Eskimos in Edmonton

Up 24-0 in the second quarter, the Ticats didn’t necessarily take their proverbial foot off the gas, but it looked like they hit cruise control and settled back with an eye towards the post-game celebration.

The Eskimos, now losers of four straight games, regrouped and caught the Cats flat-footed.

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Edmonton rallied to tie the game 24-24 early in the fourth quarter and evened the score at 27-all with 35 seconds to play in the game, only to watch Hamilton march into field goal territory and grimace as Lirim Hajrullahu drilled his 34-yard field goal attempt off the left upright and in for the walk-off win.

It was sweet redemption for Hajrullahu, whose potential game-winner the previous week in Calgary was blocked by what can only be described as a Herculean effort by Stampeders superstar Tre Roberson.

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So, what to make of the Tiger-Cats’ latest performance?

Was Hamilton’s tale of two halves just one of those games? Was it another sign of an inconsistent or still maturing offence?

I can tell you this: the Cats don’t care. They won the game and became the first CFL team this year to clinch a playoff spot, and that’s all that matters.