Hamilton – Dane Evans and Hamilton Tiger Cats finally managed to finish the match.
Evans threw five high-powered touchdown passes as Hamilton scored a stunning 48-31 home win over Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon. But the Tekats’ attack was at its best in the fourth quarter after the Blue Bombers scored two goals to move closer to 41-31.
The unit responded emphatically with a 90-yard, 14-game in the wind that headed Evans with a six-yard TD pass to David Ungerer at 13:03. Most importantly, the walk took seven minutes and 20 seconds off the clock.
“I just want the ball to be in my hand with the game on the line,” Evans said. “I know this season has gone two different ways several times but as a competitor that’s all you can ask for.
“I told the guys in the rally that if we score, it’s over and I think everyone has that instinct for them.”
Hamilton (4-9) snapped a three-game losing streak to take third place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Montreal (5-7). The Ticats are visiting the Alouettes on a Friday night.
“We just have to stay locked up,” Evans said. “We certainly can’t begin to think how awesome we are… because Montreal is going to come out and hit us right in the face.
“The great thing is that I don’t think anyone in this locker room is going to do that. I think we’re going to do as Hamilton always does, go straight back to work and be us again. That wasn’t our super. Bowl or gray cup.”
Winnipeg (12-2) suffered their first defeat in four games and went down 7-1 on the road.
Evans finished 25 of 32 passes for 327 yards, posting his best performance of the year ahead of Tim Hortons’ 22,288-yard field rally.
“(Five assists) is just kind of what I needed tonight to win,” Evans said. “I’d be sitting here telling you the same thing if we run in five touchdowns.
“As long as we win… whatever it takes I will do. I felt good, I wouldn’t lie to you but everyone on the team did. I don’t even know if I got hit… Everyone was protecting their butts.”
Much was expected of Evans this season after Hamilton signed him on a two-year contract extension and allowed veteran Jeremiah Masoli to become a free agent. Evans was the Tactics’ start in two Gray Cup losses to Winnipeg in 2019 and 21.
But Evans and Hamilton have struggled this year. The 28-year-old Texan got into the game after winning just two of its nine games and leading the Canadian Football League in interceptions (13), fumbling (seven) and losing (six).
What’s more, he hasn’t played in three of Hamilton’s previous four games (out of two, listed third in the other game) due to a right shoulder injury.
On Thursday, Evans said he spent time with Tecate’s psychiatrist Dr. Carla Edwards, adding that the sessions definitely benefited him mentally and helped him in his physical recovery.
“It was huge,” he said. “I think it’s just another part of my game that I can take advantage of.
“I think it obviously helped me. I’m excited to talk to her after finally something good unlike what I was talking to her about.”
Techats coach Orlondo Steinor credited Evans for his performance, but said the veteran midfielder had plenty of help.
“He (Evans) responded and explained why he has been rewarded for his efforts in previous years for being the captain of this football team,” Steinauer said. “But it always starts up front (and) I thought they (the Ticats offensive line guys) did a phenomenal job.
“The biggest thing is that we finished driving with a touchdown and that’s something we avoided for whatever reason. Credit Winnipeg, with everything that was going ‘right’ for us, was a 10-point game and we had to respond to the wind and I thought we did.”
Zach Coulos finished 23 of 34 passes for 342 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Rookie Dalton Schoen had six receptions for 158 yards.
Hamilton’s attack represents the most points Winnipeg has conceded in a game since the 37-33 loss to Calgary on October 19, 2019.
Tim White, along with two, owner Carney, Fred Dunbar Jr. and Keonder Smith experienced the downside of Hamilton. Seth Small kicked two field goals and six converts.
“We needed that, and I think it showed there that we wanted it,” said White, who had six catches for 63 yards. “Obviously the Dane came out to play and when he does that our team is even better.
“Anyone who is going through ordeals like what he (Evans) has been through and being able to show up against one of the best teams in the CFL is obviously exceptional. It’s definitely a huge confidence booster and we’re looking forward to more of that – that.”
Dakoa Prokop, Rashid Bailey and Nick Demsky scored the Winnipeg goal. Mark Leggio added three field goals, three convertibles, and one goal.
Hamilton beat Winnipeg 24-4 in the second quarter to lead 34-14 in the first half. Evans was 15 of 19 passing for 252 yards and three TDs.
Carney put Hamilton ahead 20-10 at 3:36. He sacked Kargos and forced the Winnipeg midfielder to stumble. Carney recovered and rushed 22 yards for TD.
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 17, 2022.