CFL: Tiger-Cats 38, Alouettes 26
MONTREAL — They call him Brandon "Speedy" Banks for a reason.
Banks caught three touchdowns on 201 yards to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a 38-26 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday afternoon in a potential CFL East final preview.
Hamilton (14-3) outscored the Alouettes 24-5 in the second half for the come-from-behind victory. The Ticats have won five games in a row and nine of their last 10.
"Speedy Banks, you would pay to watch him play," said Hamilton coach Orlondo Steinauer. "He's one of those special players. We're fortunate to have him. He works really hard. I thought Tommy (offensive co-ordinator Condell) dialled his number up quite a bit.
"Speedy is a special player."
The Alouettes (9-8) simply could not cover Banks, who made 11 receptions on 13 throws by quarterback Dane Evans to set a new Ticats record for most receptions in a season (112).
Evans threw four touchdowns and an interception on 379 yards.
"I'm just a recipient of the offence," said Banks, who has a career-high 1,550 receiving yards this season. "The way he (Evans) was calling the game, he was getting me open and I was able to catch some good balls.
"It's humbling and a blessing to have that record."
Down 7-0 in the first quarter, Evans found Banks for his first touchdown of the game — a 55-yard catch-and-run play that saw Banks twist and turn his way around Montreal's Jarnor Jones and into the end zone.
With the score tied 21-21 in the third quarter, Banks scored his second TD from nine yards out shortly after an interception by Cariel Brooks.
A safety and a Boris Bede field goal for the Alouettes reduced the deficit to 28-26 before Banks' six-yard touchdown catch with 8:57 remaining on the clock sealed the victory for Hamilton.
Banks has caught a TD in six straight games.
"No team has seemed to figure that out yet," said coach Khari Jones on Montreal's inability to stop Banks. "He's pretty dynamic out there. We didn't do anything special to try to stop him in this game and that's what happens. If we get the opportunity to play him again, maybe we play him a little differently.
"He's just a very very good player and those guys find ways to get the ball."
Hamilton won the season series 2-1 over Montreal after each team won its home game earlier this year. The teams could face each other again in the East final if Montreal beats Edmonton in the semifinal on Nov. 10.
QB Vernon Adams Jr. went 11-for-14 for 142 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception before leaving the game in the second quarter. Matthew Shiltz, in relief, threw a touchdown and an interception on 142 yards.
The Alouettes removed Adams from the game to manage his workload ahead of the playoffs. Jones also rested regular starters Henoc Muamba, William Stanback, Tommie Campbell, DeVier Posey and Mario Alford.
"That was the plan from the beginning," said Jones of removing Adams from the game. "He was in a good flow and playing well and I just wanted to see that from him. I wanted to see him look good, and he looked great out there."
The home team started strong with Adams taking the snaps.
The Alouettes took a 7-0 lead on a nine-yard touchdown toss down the middle from Adams to Quan Bray at 13:30 of the first quarter. Receiver Eugene Lewis reached 1,000 yards on the season on the drive.
Adams found paydirt again to start the second quarter before leaving the game. A toss in tight coverage to Jake Wieneke from 11 yards out made it 14-6 at 3:52.
Bralon Addison tied the game 14-14 by capping off a six-play, 95-yard drive with an 18-yard run into the end zone. Hamilton successfully completed the two-point convert.
Montreal regained its lead on the very next drive when Shiltz found Chris Matthews for the 15-yard score with 50 seconds remaining before halftime.
After a good punt return for Hamilton in the third quarter, Evans took advantage of the field position and connected with Anthony Combs from six yards out to tie the game 21-21 early in the third quarter.
Notes: There were 17,264 in attendance at Percival Molson Stadium.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2019.