HAMILTON – A Rene Paredes 35-yard field goal in overtime put the finishing touches on overcoming a 24-point deficit to pull out a 33-30 CFL victory for the Calgary Stampeders in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats home opener on Saturday.
The Tiger-Cats (0-2) allowed a 24-3 first-half lead to slip away and wasted an outstanding showing from quarterback Dane Evans, who threw three touchdowns and completed 36 of 51 for 425 yards.
But Evans was intercepted on the Ticats’ possession in OT.
Playing behind a revamped offensive line, Evans vowed to improve after a season-opening loss in Saskatchewan against the Roughriders last week.
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders (2-0) made life uncomfortable for the Ticats in the fourth quarter. A second touchdown pass from Mitchell, this time a 17-yard connection to receiver Reggie Begelton with 5:48 remaining, closed the gap to 27-20.
Defensive back Titus Wall then stripped Evans on a quarterback sneak and pranced 45 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
The teams traded 39-yard field goals in the late going. Michael Domagala hit for Hamilton with 79 seconds remaining, and Paredes split the uprights as regulation time expired.
The visitors won the opening coin toss. But they deferred to the Ticats, who started with the wind and the ball before 22,711 fans at Tim Hortons Field.
Hamilton employed a no-huddle offence with the wind to build a 17-0 first-quarter lead. The first drive resulted in a 21-yard field goal.
Evans hit running back Sean Thomas Erlington for a 14-yard touchdown pass and completed a 38-yard bomb to Steven Dunbar on the opening quarter’s final play.
The wind did not help the Stampeders get on track in the second quarter. Instead, Hamilton added another touchdown on a fantastic catch from Tim White.
White reached around Calgary defensive back Dionte Ruffin to haul in Evans’s 25-yard toss for a 24-0 advantage with 2:08 remaining in he half.
The Stampeders marched down the field to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Paredes.
The Ticats had two scoring opportunities snuffed out early in the second quarter. First, Wall picked off Evans in the end zone.
But an interception from Hamilton’s Jovan Santos-Knox set the home side up on the 15-yard line, but the Ticats turned the ball over on downs.
After the Hamilton turnover, the Stampeders marched 103 yards on the strength of seven completed passes from Mitchell.
The drive resulted in an eight-yard strike to Luther Hakanavanhu and a 24-10 Ticats lead after three quarters.
The Stampeders began the final quarter with the ball and the wind at their backs. Paredes drilled a 46-yard field goal after Hamilton defensive back Tunde Adeleke floored his former Calgary teammate Peyton Logan with a clean hit to cause an incomplete pass.
The Ticats answered with a 59-yard drive for an 18-yard field goal and their first points in the second half.