Brandon Banks scores three TDs to lead Ticats past Stampeders

Hamilton Tiger Cats wide receiver Brandon Banks (16) runs back a kick-off return for a touchdown during first half CFL football game action against the Calgary Stampeders, in Hamilton, Ont., on Saturday, July 13, 2019. (Peter Power/CP)

HAMILTON — Brandon Banks scored three touchdowns — including the game-winner with under three minutes to play — as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats exorcised plenty of demons with their 30-23 home win over the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night.

Jeremiah Masoli hit Banks with a 20-yard TD strike at 12:16 of the fourth as Hamilton (4-1) snapped a dubious 15-game losing streak to Calgary (2-2) that included the 2014 Grey Cup.

The Ticats head into their bye week with their first home victory over the Stampeders since a 24-17 decision Sept. 8, 2009.

And Hamilton is 4-1 for the first time since ’98 when it made the first of consecutive Grey Cup appearances against Calgary, losing that year before downing the Stampeders in ’99 for their last CFL title.

Masoli also found Banks on a 22-yard TD strike three minutes into the fourth to put Hamilton ahead 23-16. But Calgary countered with Ka’Deem Carey’s three-yard TD run — his second of the game — at 7:12 to pull even 23-23.

It was a record-breaking night for Banks, who recorded his CFL-record fifth TD off a missed field goal attempt in the first half. Will Likely III also got into the act with a kickoff return touchdown as Hamilton ended the first half tied 16-16 despite mustering just 67 offensive yards.

Lirim Hajrullahu’s punt put Calgary at its own seven-yard line with 27 seconds remaining. But Nick Arbuckle made it exciting with a 55-yard Hail Mary Pass to Colton Hunchak to the home team’s 15-yard line on the final play.

Masoli finished 25-of-34 passing for 192 yards with two TDs and an interception. Arbuckle, in his second straight CFL start, was 24 of 40 for 366 yards.

Hamilton had a glorious chance to break a 16-16 tie sitting at Calgary’s three-yeard line with under six minutes remaining in the third. But DaShaun Amos intercepted Masoli in the endzone to end the threat.

Reggie Begelton scored Calgary’s other touchdown. Rene Paredes added a single and two converts with the other points coming on a safety.

Banks and Nikola Kalinic added two-point converts for Hamilton. Hajruallhu kicked a convert.

Wild special-teams play dominated the first half, which ended tied 16-16, thanks to Banks and Kalinic. Banks returned Paredes’s missed 51-yard field goal try 115 yards for the touchdown at 14:17 before Masoli found Kalinic on the two-point convert to tie the score.

Banks’s electrifying return came following a huge second-down sack by former Stampeder Ja’Gared Davis that forced Calgary to attempt the field goal.

A safety conceded by Hamilton cornerback Tunde Adeleke, another former Stampeder, at 12:29 put Calgary ahead 16-8. And that flattered the Ticats, who mustered just 67 first-half offensive yards (Calgary had 215 yards).

It came after the two teams combined for three touchdowns — two coming on special teams — in under three minutes. Likely III took a Pardedes kickoff back 110 yard for the TD at 6:52, then Masoli found Banks for the two-point convert to pull Hamilton to within 14-8.

Carey blocked Hajruallhu’s punt, then recovered the ball and scored to put Calgary ahead 14-0 at 6:18. It came after Begelton’s six-yard TD run at 4:06 capped an 83-yard, seven-play drive that was aided by a 15-yard spearing penalty against Adeleke.

Paredes opened the scoring at 9:46 of the first with a single off a missed 36-yard field goal try. Calgary’s Rob Maver added a 14-yard completion to Ante Milanovic-Litre out of punt formation on the Stampeders’ first possession.

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