Special teams score twice to lift Hamilton Tiger-Cats past Calgary Stampeders

HAMILTON —  Brandon Banks scored three touchdowns to help the Hamilton Tiger-Cats come out on top in a tightly contested game against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night, with the Tabbies earning a 30-23 home victory and getting its first win over Calgary since 2011.

The Ticats scored a pair of special teams touchdowns in the opening half to erase an early 14 point deficit, with a 110-yard kickoff return touchdown from Will Likely and a 105-yard missed field goal return touchdown from Banks. But the game was all tied up after a half of play, and it was not until late in the fourth quarter that the Ticats pulled ahead for good to walk away with the win.

Calgary’s defence held quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and the productive Ticats offence to just 59 passing yards in the first half, but Masoli got things going in the fourth quarter and finished with 192 passing yards and two touchdown tosses to Banks. Banks finished the game with nine catches for 86 yards, a two-point convert and the two receiving scores.

Stamps quarterback Nick Arbuckle got his second straight start and completed 24 of 40 passes for 368 yards. Receiver Reggie Begelton had a huge performance for Calgary with eight catches for 119 yards to go along with a six-yard rushing touchdown and 92 kickoff return yards.

The Stamps also notched a special teams touchdown, with Ka’Deem Carey blocking a Lirim Hajrullahu punt and scooping it up and scoring himself. Carey also scored a rushing touchdown.

Both defences stole the show in the opening quarter, but the Stamps managed to get on the board first with a single point after a missed 36-yard field goal attempt from kicker Rene Paredes went out of the back of the end zone.

Calgary got things going on offence to start the second quarter with Arbuckle leading a seven-play, 83-yard scoring drive. The Calgary quarterback completed a 15-yard pass to Begelton before running back Terry Williams took a short pass and gained 29 yards to put the team in scoring position. Begelton finished off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run. The ensuing two-point convert attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 7-0.

The Stamps added to their lead later in the second quarter with a special teams touchdown, as Carey blocked a Hajrullahu punt before scooping it up himself and taking it into the end zone for the touchdown. Paredes added the extra point to put Calgary up 14-0.

But the Ticats responded right away with a special teams score of their own. Likely took the kickoff and returned it 110 yards up the middle of the field for a touchdown, and Masoli completed the two-point convert pass to Banks to make it a 14-8 ball game.

Calgary extended its lead once again after its defence pinned Hamilton back and forced the team to concede a safety, bringing the score to 16-8. But Hamilton got right back in the game with a touchdown before half-time, as Banks reeled in a missed field goal and returned it 105 yards for the special teams score.

The Ticats’ defence forced a turnover when defensive back Delvin Breaux stripped the ball from Begelton and recovered it, but Masoli was intercepted in the end zone by defensive back DaShaun Amos while trying to convert the turnover into a go-ahead touchdown. The interception was the first of Amos’ CFL career.

Hamilton grabbed its first lead of the night in the fourth quarter when Masoli got things rolling and started moving the chains through the air. The Ticats quarterback completed key passes to Jaelon Acklin and Luke Tasker before hitting Banks in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown. Hajrullahu added the extra point to put Hamilton up 23-16 with 12 minutes remaining.

The Stamps responded with a scoring drive of their own. A speedy 33-yard punt return from Williams and a 22-yard reception from Eric Rogers set up a three-yard touchdown run for Carey. Paredes kicked the convert to even things up at 23 apiece with under eight minutes to play.

Hamilton put the game away for good with Banks’ third score of the game, a diving 20-yard touchdown catch in the end zone. Hajrullahu kicked the extra point to give the Ticats a 30-23 lead, and the Tabbies’ defence shut down Arbuckle’s attempt to orchestrate a final comeback.

The Calgary Stampeders are set to host the Toronto Argonauts next Thursday in Week 6 action, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will get time off before they face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Week 7 on July 26.

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