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Big play defence pushes Hamilton Tiger-Cats into CFL’s Eastern Final

Hamilton’s dream of winning the Grey Cup on home soil for the first time in 49 years remains alive after the Tiger-Cats beat the Montreal Alouettes 23-12 during a snowy CFL Eastern Semifinal Sunday afternoon.

Despite a slow start in which the Ticats offence generated just 18 rushing yards and trailed 3-0 after the first quarter, Hamilton blew the contest open with 20 unanswered points to close out the first half.

Midway through the second quarter, Alouettes QB Trevor Harris fumbled the ball while being sacked and defensive end Julian Howsare picked up the ball and returned it 45 yards to the Montreal 22-yard line.

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Two plays later, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli threw a 20-yard touchdown to Brandon Banks and the Ticats took their first lead of the game, 7-3.

The Tiger-Cats extended their lead to 14-3 thanks to a hard-fought, six-yard touchdown run by running back Don Jackson.

Another Harris fumble and an interception by Ticats rookie safety Stavros Katsantonis on back-to-back possessions, allowed Hamilton’s Michael Domagala to add a couple of field goals from 38 and 37 yards to give the home team a commanding 20-3 lead at the break.

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The Alouettes answered back with 8:13 left in the third quarter when receiver Eugene Lewis made a diving catch for a 28-yard touchdown, cutting Hamilton’s lead to 20-10.

Hamilton’s Tunde Adeleke conceded a safety with 58 seconds remaining in regulation to round out the scoring.

Montreal has not won a playoff game since 2014, which remains the longest active streak in the CFL.

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Hamilton will travel to Toronto on Dec. 5 to play the Argonauts at BMO Field in the Eastern Final, the Ticats’ third straight trip to the league’s final four.

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This year’s Grey Cup will be played at Tim Hortons Field on Dec. 12, the latest day on the calendar that the Canadian Football League championship will be staged.

Hamilton last won the Grey Cup in 1999 and their last title victory at home came in 1972 when the Ticats topped the Saskatchewan Roughriders 13-10 on a last-second field goal by Ian Sunter.

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