MONTREAL – It had been 18 games over 13 years since the Hamilton Tiger-Cats won a game in Montreal.
That dubious streak ended Sunday afternoon as the Tiger-Cats dominated in a 23-11 victory that spoiled veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn’s debut with the Montreal Alouettes.
“You’ve got to grow as a football team and part of that is to play well in places where you’ve had tough games,” said Hamilton coach Kent Austin, whose 10-5 team clinched a playoff spot. “It’s another step for our team.”
The last time the Ticats won in the regular season in Montreal was a 29-26 decision on Oct. 20, 2002.
The misery ended as Jeff Mathews, in his third start in place of injured Zach Collaros, threw a touchdown pass to Terrell Sinkfield and Justin Medlock kicked five field goals to hand Montreal a fourth straight defeat.
The Ticats took over top spot in the CFL East Division and beat Montreal for the first time in three meetings this season.
Fred Stamps caught a TD pass with 1.3 seconds left in regulation time and Boris Bede had a field goal for Montreal (5-10), which fell to 2-5 since general manager Jim Popp took over as head coach.
While Montreal’s defence held the Ticats mostly to field goals, the offence shot itself in the foot with turnovers, dropped passes and untimely penalties. The usually sure-handed S.J. Green had two go through his hands, including one in the end zone late in the third quarter.
“I think everybody knows there were some plays left out on the field, myself included,” said the 15-year CFL veteran Glenn. “You’re not going to complete every pass or catch every ball, but when you’ve got an opportunity to make a play, you’ve just got to make it. But we’ll come back strong.”
With Winnipeg and B.C. also losing on the weekend, the Alouettes remain tied for the crossover spot in the West Division playoffs.
A crowd of 23,058 at Percival Molson Stadium saw Glenn, acquired this week from Saskatchewan after starter Rakeem Cato was injured, throw three interceptions while only generating one touchdown, when he hit Stamps with a 16-yard toss with the game all but over.
He completed 26 of 44 passes for 226 yards. Mathews was good on 21 of 25 tosses for 241 yards and was not intercepted.
“He saw the field well, we just didn’t make the plays,” Popp said of Glenn. “Our defence did a pretty nice job but then we started turning the ball over, or not capitalizing when we could.”
Light snow fell through a first quarter in which the only scoring was a 15-yard Medlock field goal on Hamilton’s first possession. A Simoni Lawrence interception set up a 30-yard Medlock boot 3:28 into the second quarter.
Mike Daly blocked a Bede punt and Frederic Plesius recovered to give Hamilton the ball on the Montreal eight, setting up a three-yard TD strike to Sinkfield at 5:47 by Mathews.
The Alouettes picked up a safety in the last minute of the half after Winston Venable blocked a punt and John Bowman recovered.
Consecutive Hamilton drives produced Medlock field goals to open the second half before Glenn led a 10-play drive capped by Bede’s 26-yard boot at 14:50.
The play of the game was a spectacular 44-yard catch by Hamilton’s Luke Tasker in the third quarter as he bent backward to haul in a Mathews pass.
Hamilton running back Michael Ford (lower body) and Lawrence (upper Body) left the game late in the first half, as did Montreal linebacker Kyries Hebert, who has a possible concussion, and defensive lineman Aaron Lavarias, who injured an ankle.