Photo by Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.ca

The Edmonton Eskimos erased a 24-point deficit but couldn’t close late in the fourth quarter, losing to the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats by a score of 30-27.

The Ticats opened the scoring on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Dane Evans to Brandon Banks. Evans would add two more long touchdowns in the first quarter — a 41-yard strike to Marcus Tucker and a 76-yard bomb to Bralon Addison.

It was a shocking start for the 25,694 green-clad fans at Commonwealth Stadium with Hamilton leading 21-0 after just 15 minutes of play.

Dane Evans would finish the game completing 22-of-30 pass attempts for 336 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, improving to 5-2 as a starter this season.

Brandon Banks finished the night with five receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown. He now leads the CFL with 1,039 receiving yards, his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.

Edmonton didn’t score until the final play of the first half on a six-yard touchdown pass from Logan Kilgore to DaVaris Daniels. The Eskimos would tie the game at 24-24 early in the fourth quarter on the strength of a Kilgore rushing touchdown and three Sean Whyte field goals.

Kilgore started his first CFL game since 2016 in place of the injured Trevor Harris. The 29-year-old struggled early but improved in the second half, finishing the game with 22-of-36 passing for 223 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

The game also served as the debut for Eskimos’ defensive end Mathieu Betts, the third overall pick of this year’s CFL draft. Released three weeks ago as part of NFL training camp cuts, Betts signed a three-year contract with Edmonton last week. The Laval product recorded a sack and a forced fumble in his debut.

The Ticats recaptured the lead with seven minutes remaining on a 38-yard field goal from Lirim Hajrullahu. A Sean Whyte field goal with 40 seconds remaining would tie the game at 27-27, but a four-play, 45-yard Hamilton drive would set-up Hajrullahu for a game-winner from 34 yards out.

The Eskimos inducted Ricky Ray to the team’s Wall of Honour during halftime of Friday night’s game. Ray, 39, announced his retirement in May after 16 seasons in the CFL. He started his career in Edmonton and spent nine seasons with the team before he was traded to Toronto.

Ray is still the club’s all-time leading passer with 40,531 yards to his name. He also threw 210 touchdown passes in green and gold, winning Grey Cups in 2003 and 2005.

The Ticats (10-3) travel to Winnipeg next week to take on the Blue Bombers (9-3), while the Eskimos (6-7) will visit the Ottawa Redblacks (3-9) at TD Place.

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