Dane Evans threw a career-high five touchdown passes to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a stunning 48-31 home win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday afternoon.
Hamilton (4-9) snapped a three-game losing streak with its biggest victory of the CFL season. The Ticats took sole possession of third in the East Division, two points behind idle Montreal (5-7).
Winnipeg (12-2) suffered its first loss in four games and fell to 7-1 on the road. The Bombers will also have to wait to clinch a home playoff game, something they would’ve done with a win over Hamilton and a Calgary loss to B.C. on Saturday night.
Evans finished 25-of-32 passing for 327 yards in his best and most complete game of the season before a Tim Hortons Field gathering of 22,288. Evans came in with a dismal 2-7 record as the starter and leading the CFL in interceptions (13), fumbles (seven) and fumbles lost (six).
Winnipeg made things real interesting in the fourth. Dakota Prukop scored on a two-yard TD run 33 seconds in. Zach Collaros then hit Rasheed Bailey on a 14-yard TD pass at 5:24 to cut Hamilton’s lead to 41-31.
But Evans capped an impressive 90-yard, 14-play drive with a six-yard TD pass to David Ungerer at 13:03. More importantly, the march took seven minutes 20 seconds off the clock.
Collaros finished 23-of-34 passing for 342 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Rookie Dalton Schoen had six receptions for 158 yards.
Hamilton’s onslaught marked the most points Winnipeg had surrendered in a game since a 37-33 loss to Calgary on Oct. 19, 2019.
Tim White, with two, Malik Carney, Fred Dunbar Jr. and Kiondre Smith had Hamilton’s touchdowns. Seth Small kicked two field goals and six converts.
Nic Demski scored Winnipeg’s other touchdown. Marc Liegghio added three field goals, three converts and a single.
Evans and White connected on a second TD pass, this one for four yards, at 9:05 of the third to stretch Hamilton’s lead to 41-17. Winnipeg opened the second half with Leigghio’s 36-yard field goal at 4:18.
Hamilton outscored Winnipeg 24-4 in the second quarter for a 34-14 halftime lead. Evans was 15-of-19 passing for 252 yards and three TDs, while Carney added a defensive touchdown.
Evans emphatically staked Hamilton to its 20-point advantage with a 55-yard TD pass to Smith at 13:14 of the second.
Leigghio’s 33-yard field goal at 12:59 pulled Winnipeg to within 27-14.
Liegghio’s 49-yard single pulled Winnipeg to within 20-11 at 6:50. But Evans capped a seven-play, 70-yard march with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Dunbar Jr. at 10:47 for a 27-11 advantage.
Carney put Hamilton ahead 20-10 at 3:36. He sacked Collaros and forced the Winnipeg quarterback to fumble. Carney recovered and rumbled 22 yards for the TD.
Small’s 41-yard field goal at 3:11 gave the Ticats a 13-10 advantage.
Liegghio hit a 27-yard field goal to end the first quarter and tie the score 10-10. It followed Evans’s eight-yard TD pass to White at 10:04.
Small capped Hamilton’s opening possession with a 52-yard field goal at 2:30. But Winnipeg countered with a seven-play, 70-yard march the first time it had the ball, anchored by Collaros’s eight-yard TD strike to Demski at 6:34.