MONTREAL — During an Aug. 11 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Eugene Lewis caught a pass from Trevor Harris for what could have been a touchdown but fell out of bounds due to Percival Molson Stadium’s truncated end zones.
On Friday night, Lewis stayed in bounds to catch the game-winning touchdown on the same route as the Montreal Alouettes took a 23-16 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“Just put me in a different position so that it wouldn't happen again,” Lewis said of the play. “So we've learned, yes.”
By the same token, Lewis broke the 1000-yard mark for the second time in his career.
“That's always the standard for receivers,” Lewis said. I really feel personally that I probably could have gotten it a few games ago, it's just that things happen in different ways. You have to be able to adjust, keep playing and be unbothered.”
Harris went 26-of-35 passing for 244 yards and two touchdowns — both to Lewis who had seven receptions for 52 yards.
The Alouettes (6-7) trailed until the fourth quarter but capped off their first-ever four-game homestand with a win and a 3-1 record. Montreal also solidified its position as second in the East Division winning the all-important season series which acts as a tiebreaker.
“If we use a baseball analogy, we’re ahead (of Hamilton) by two-and-a-half games with one game in hand,” said general manager and interim coach Danny Maciocia. “In the next few weeks, if possible, we’re aiming for a two-team race but we still have work to do.”
On Hamilton's (4-10) end, mistakes proved to be costly in the loss.
“Overall, we weren’t good enough,” said Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer. “We did a lot of great things but it felt like we didn’t help ourselves. We took too many penalties in key situations, we turned the ball over late. We knew it was going to be a back-and-forth game and we’re just disappointed in that."
Wes Hills ran in Hamilton’s lone touchdown on the night. Dane Evans went 22-of-29 passing with 288 yards.
Although Lewis was the headliner, the game ball went to safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy, who missed the contest as he was mourning the loss of his mother who died last week.
“We had a thought for Marc-Antoine because his mother left us, a woman that I know very well,” Maciocia said. She was a football mom that loved to watch her son play. We don’t usually give out game balls after wins but this one, like I told Marc-Antoine, we’re going to win and we’ll give your mother the game ball.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tiger-Cats broke the ice. Evans pulled a big play from his sleeve with a 38-yard pass to Papi White. Hills later capped off the drive with a four-yard run to put Hamilton up 7-0.
Harris connected with Jake Weineke on a 31-yard pass for a big play on the next drive, but Montreal failed to answer back with a touchdown of its own. Kicker David Cote hit a 41-yard field goal to put the Alouettes on the board.
In the final moments of the second quarter, Evans threw a 20-yard pass to Tyler Ternowski to put the Ticats in field-goal range. Seth Small converted a 32-yarder to give Hamilton a 10-3 lead going into halftime.
Just over three minutes into the second half, Cote trimmed Hamilton’s lead to four with a career-high 51-yard field goal. Small responded less than two minutes later with a 38-yard field goal to bring the score to 13-6 for the Ticats.
The Alouettes reached the red zone for the first time in the game halfway through the third quarter and Harris found Eugene Lewis on a five-yard touchdown pass. However, Cote missed the extra point, keeping Montreal behind by one.
One play prior to the score, Hamilton cornerback Rodney Randle Jr. collided with a teammate and was eventually taken off the field by stretcher after a long injury break.
Steinauer said that Randle had “feeling in his hand and he was speaking” but is awaiting further details.
“It puts everything into perspective real quick and immediately, I just wanted somebody to get up to his wife in the stands and inform her of what was going on,” he added. “It’s one of those things that you’re not prepared for. Knees and elbows, these types of things happen but when you’re carted off, that’s a different level.”
Under a minute into the fourth, Montreal took its first lead of the game courtesy of a Cote 12-yard field goal, his third of the night.
Almost 10 minutes later, The Ticats failed to capitalize on an opportunity to score a touchdown from inside the Alouettes' 10-yard line. Hamilton settled on regaining a one-point lead with a nine-yard field goal by Small.
Montreal followed that up with a drive downfield leading to Harris finding Lewis for a nine-yard touchdown, helping the receiver reach the 1000-yard mark. Harris then found Reggie White Jr. to complete the two-point conversion and go up 23-16.
The Ticats made a push to force overtime but a late fumble by wide receiver Kiondre Smith was recovered by defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson, sealing the Alouettes’ win.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press