Last time the Hamilton met Montreal the Ticats stomped their way to a 41-10 win and by the numbers had the league’s best offence and defence to go along with a 3-0 start.
But that was not the case Thursday night. Montreal’s suffocating defence in the second half combined by a monster outing by William Stanback led to the Alouettes first win of the year 36-29.
Stanback had 203 yards on 22 carries – the first 200-yard performance from an Als running back since Mike Pringle in 1998 – with three touchdowns and even through in 46 receiving yards for good measure.
The Als struck first. Stanback tore off a 41-yard catch and run putting them on the seven-yard line before settling for a Boris Bede field goal.
Montreal got the ball back almost right away as Glenn Love picked off a Jeremiah Masoli pass to Brandon Banks in Tiger-Cats territory.
Adams quickly found B.J Cunningham for a 22-yard pick up. The running back did the rest. Three straight carries moved the chains before Stanback carried it across the goal line and it was a quick 10-0 lead.
The hits continued for Hamilton. Montreal native Sean Thomas-Erlington went down following a Tommie Campbell hit. He was enjoying a breakout season but did not return after a pair of teammates carried him off.
The Ticats responded two drives later with a touchdown of their own. Aided by a penalty and two quick strikes to Luke Tasker, who returned after missing the last couple of weeks with injury. Masoli found Jaelon Acklin for his first career CFL major as he managed to keep his feet in bounds. It was 10-6 after one. Acklin led the Ticats receivers with 120 yards on eight grabs.
A quick Als two-and-out gave the Tabbies short field to work with. A pass interference call put them on the 30 and they settled for three.
Then a tipped Bede punt by David Dean went for just 21 yards and Hamilton had their second consecutive short field to play with but ultimately went nowhere.
Stanback gave the ball back however as one play after a 36-yard burst Ja’Gared Davis stripped and recovered the ball and put Hamilton back on offence.
The Ticats swung a two-for-one on field goal conversions in the final few drives as Hajrullahu connected from 37 yards and 14 yards. Bede hit a 43-yarder in between those and it was 18-13 Hamilton at half.
Masoli had 230 passing yards at the half and ended with 401 on 29-for-44 passing with a pick and a pair of touchdowns. Adams meanwhile finished up with 202 yards on 14-for-25 passing.
The third started with some ground work for the Als. Stanback took off for 20 yards before his quarterback ran for 18 more. A 16-yard reception to Bray followed but they couldn’t get much more after another first down. Bede came out and hit his third field goal and Montreal was within two.
Another strong defensive set by Montreal and they were back on offence.
Quan Bray replaced DeVier Posey as the ladder was a late scratch. The rookie from Auburn had eight catches in an impressive outing.
Without Posey, they had to find another big-play threat for this one and they did in Cunningham. He took a four-yard catch and ran for 39 more. A few plays later Bray drew a pass interference in the end zone, and Stanback did the rest on a toss for a touchdown. A missed two point-convert later and it was 22-18 Montreal late in the third.
Hamilton had minus one offensive yards in the third quarter. The Als defence allowed just one reception and one first down on three drives, both of which were quickly negated on a 13-yard sack, which led to a punt.
Stanback ended the frame on yet another monstrous run, this time going for 31 yards. After a Khari Jones challenge, Delvin Breaux was called on his second pass interference call which put the ball on the one 13 seconds into the final quarter. Adams crossed the plane and the Als jumped out to an 11-point lead.
Yet another two-and-out forced on Masoli and company put Adams back to work.
Stanback continued to do his thing before Adams found Eugene Lewis near the sidelines on the one for 35 yards. But it was called back as Orlondo Steinauer successfully challenged the reception believing Lewis did not have control of the ball before stepping out.
A roughing the passer stopped a would-be third down and Stanback completed his hat trick on a 21-yard run to the end zone and it was 36-18.
The Ticats committed 15 penalties costing them 179 yards and a bundle of points.
Masoli found Marcus Tucker in the end zone in the responding drive after they burned down the field through the air and three Acklin receptions. They brought the deficit to within 10 after the two-point convert with just less than six minutes to play.
Hajrullahu hit his fifth field goal on the night with 1:03 to play and they got the ball back with 30 seconds to play as Chris Frey Jr. blocked a second Bede punt but was flagged for roughing the kicker and that was the ball game.
Montreal looks to build on this outing next week in Ottawa while the Ticats are hosting Calgary.