It was an impressive CFL debut for rookie Brett Lauther.
The native of Truro, N.S., booted four field goals — including two in the decisive fourth quarter — as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Montreal Alouettes 28-26 on Saturday.
Hamilton had placed Lauther on its practice roster after selecting the former Saint Mary’s Huskies kicker in the seventh round of the 2013 CFL draft. But he was promoted to the active roster to replace incumbent Luca Congi, who was benched after missing two field goals in last weekend’s 26-22 loss to Calgary.
Lauther made good on his opportunity, making all four of his attempts.
“I don’t care about the stats,” he said. “We got the win, that’s all I really care about.
“It was extra special that family and friends were in the crowd.”
Hamilton coach Kent Austin was definitely impressed with the rookie kicker but not surprised.
“He has a past of making big kicks,” Austin aid. “That’s kind of his M.O.”
Hamilton rallied for the victory by outscoring Montreal 15-7 in the fourth. Dan LeFevour’s one-yard TD run anchored the rally, which also included Lauther’s field goals and a safety.
The Ticats (6-6) erased a 19-13 third-quarter deficit en route to moving four points ahead of third-place Montreal (4-8) in the East Division standings.
Hamilton improved to 2-0 at Moncton Stadium after downing Calgary 56-36 in 2011. LeFevour’s TD put the Ticats ahead 22-19 and was set up by Louie Richardson’s recovery of Tyron Carrier’s fumble on a punt return.
Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris appeared in his second Touchdown Atlantic game. Burris finished 15-of-27 for 176 yards and an interception as the Ticats earned their fifth win in seven games.
“I think we’ve been improving and really that’s all we really focus on. ” Austin said. “They play with great effort and have a ton of fight in them.”
Montreal made it interesting as Josh Neiswander found Duron Carter on a 27-yard TD strike - Neiswander’s second of the game - with under a minute remaining. But Hamilton recovered the onside kickoff to cement the victory.
Neiswander was 26-of-36 passing for 294 yards with no interceptions. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Alouettes placed rookie Tanner Marsh (thumb) on the nine-game injured list, joining veteran Anthony Calvillo (concussion) to solidify Neiswander’s status as Montreal’s clear-cut starter.
Jim Popp, Montreal’s GM and interim head coach, said Neiswander played well.
“He’s got a real sense of running our offence,” Popp said. “We did things to simplify our offence.
“I thought this was one of our better games at sustaining drives.”
Despite the loss, Popp found some positive in the game.
“The final score wasn’t good but there was a lot of good in the game,” he said. “Maybe the first game this year that we didn’t turn the ball over on offence.”
Troy Smith and S.J. Green scored Montreal’s touchdowns. Sean Whyte added a convert and two field goals.
Montreal opened the third impressively, with Smith, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State, scoring on a one-yard TD run to put the Alouettes ahead 16-13 as the convert was blocked.
After Lauther opened the scoring in the first, Montreal took a 7-3 lead when Neiswander found Green on a 33-yard TD strike to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive with the wind.
Lauther’s 40-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter staked Hamilton to a 13-10 halftime lead. The Ticats opened the frame with the wind advantage and used a little razzle-dazzle to take a 10-7 advantage.
Hamilton lined up for the field goal but after taking the snap, new holder Andy Fantuz flipped the ball to Beswick, who rumbled 10 yards for the TD. Usually on converts, punter Josh Bartel holds for the Ticats.
Popp said he saw the play coming but the Alouettes still couldn’t stop it.
“We were yelling and screaming,”he said. “When they’re that far down there and it’s only five yards to get a first down, they may take a chance.”
Austin said the Ticats have been practising the fake for some time but were waiting for the perfect time to use it.
“It wasn’t a sure thing, we had to execute it,” he said. “We wanted it to be close, we didn’t want to do it on a 43 or a 47-yarder.”
Montreal’s defence held Hamilton to 288 total yards but the Ticats won the special-teams battle. Alouettes linebacker Chip Cox, the CFL’s leading tackler, had seven tackles and an interception.
Notes: Cris Carter, the Pro Football Hall of Fame member and former Minnesota Vikings star, was on hand to watch his son, Duron, play for Montreal . . . With Marsh on the injured list, Montreal signed quarterback Nathan Enderle from Idaho.