This time around the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were happy to see a Quinton Porter comeback bid fall short.
Lindsay Lamar scored on an 88-yard punt return as Hamilton held on for a 33-26 win over the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday night in the CFL pre-season opener for both teams.
Tiger-Cats quarterback Dan LeFevour threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Chevon Walker just before halftime and Delbert Alvarado kicked three field goals in the first half.
“I thought the effort was outstanding,” said Hamilton head coach Kent Austin, who won in his first CFL game since 2007, when he coached Saskatchewan to the Grey Cup. “We played really hard for the entire game.”
Ticats QB Jeremiah Masoli scored on a one-yard run 1:13 into the fourth quarter to put Hamilton up 33-12 in front of a Percival Molson Stadium crowd of 20,174.
Porter threw a pair of touchdown passes as Montreal mounted a comeback bid.
The former Ticats quarterback connected with Kenny Stafford on a 75-yard touchdown 3:04 into the fourth to draw the Alouettes within 33-19. Porter also threw a 20-yard touchdown to Tyron Carrier at 10:34.
“We knew it just takes a couple of big plays like that and things can change, but I just wish we could have kept more going at the end there,” said Porter, who spent the last five seasons with Hamilton. “We just ran out of time.”
Brett Lauther kicked a 14-yard field goal for the Tiger-Cats in the third quarter after Hamilton conceded a safety.
As happy as he was about his team’s effort, Austin saw plenty of areas of the Ticats’ game that he wants to improve.
“We’ve got to clean up a lot of things,” said Austin, who coached Cornell for the last two seasons after spending two years as the offensive co-ordinator at the University of Mississippi, his alma mater. “Too many penalties, especially on special teams. We’ve got to eliminate some of those mistakes, and we will. We’ll be better with our assignments next week.”
LeFevour completed 10-of-19 passes for 149 yards in the first half.
“I thought we moved the ball pretty well,” LeFevour said. “We moved the ball consistently. There were no real two-and-outs, not a lot of them, and just making plays and at least giving ourselves an opportunity to score.”
Masoli completed 5-of-10 attempts for 82 yards. Brian Brohm also went 5 for 10, for 110 yards, including a 38-yard pass to Eric McCree on a drive that led to Lauther’s field goal that made it 26-12.
Chris Jennings scored a touchdown on a one-yard run as the Alouettes took a 7-0 lead 2:28 into the game, which marked Montreal head coach Dan Hawkins’ pro coaching debut.
The veteran U.S. college coach replaced Marc Trestman, who left Montreal to become the Chicago Bears’ head coach.
Hawkins, who spent the last two years as an ESPN college football analyst, coached Boise State to a 53-11 mark from 2001-05. He also coached Willamette and Colorado and has a 112-61-1 coaching record in the college ranks.
“He was great,” Porter said. “He’s got a great attitude and he kept a positive attitude. Even when we were down he’s not getting on guys and as pros we really appreciate that.”
There was a long delay, 9:31 into the second, after Montreal receiver David Clowney was injured. Players from both teams kneeled on the field and sidelines while Clowney was attended to by medical staff as he lay on the field.
Clowney was placed on a spinal board and his neck was immobilized with a cervical collar before he was carried off the field.
Hawkins could not describe Clowney’s injury and had no update on his condition.
Anthony Calvillo completed a 50-yard pass to Jamel Richardson on the Alouettes’ first play from scrimmage. The 40-year-old quarterback guided Montreal through its first offensive series, a five-play touchdown drive capped by Jennings’ one-yard plunge.
Josh Neiswander came in for Calvillo on the Alouettes’ second offensive series. He completed 8-of-23 pass attempts for 99 yards in the first half, including a 23-yard catch by Wallace Wright.
“We’re trying to get a look at a lot of guys,” Hawkins said. “I thought they competed well, which was great. I thought their spirit was great. You know, the first unit, they were awesome. They came out and started fast so I give them a lot of credit for their mentality of coming out of the gate and getting after it.”
Porter ran the Als’ offence for most of the second half. He completed 8-of-17 pass attempts for 178 yards, taking over after Tanner Marsh guided Montreal through its first two series of the third quarter.