HAMILTON—Winless in their last six games without Brandon Banks, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats needed their superstar wide receiver more than ever.
Down by six with just over a minute remaining, a 57-yard punt return from Frankie Williams proved to be the difference, setting the stage for some late game heroics.
Two plays later, it was Banks who had a 23-yard touchdown catch, his second TD of the game to give the Tiger-Cats the 35-34 victory over the B.C. Lions.
The Cats improved their record to 6-2, tied for the CFL’s best with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and maintained their perfect start at Tim Hortons Field.
Despite great performances across the board it was Banks’ play that drew the most attention from his teammates.
“Banks is the best offensive player in the league,” said Simoni Lawrence, after returning from his two-game suspension for a late hit to then Saskatchewan quarter Zach Collaros. He’s now in Toronto.
“As soon as Frankie [Williams] returned it to the 23 I already knew we had the game in our hands.”
— CFL (@CFL) August 11, 2019
Dane Evans, who earned his first CFL victory in his third start under centre, saw another aspect of Speedy B’s game on display after the wide-out missed last week’s 24-19 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders with turf toe.
“He showed tonight that he’s clutch,” said Evans, who completed 23-out-of 32 passes and threw for 260 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Chickasha, Oklahoma native credited his preparation for his stellar performance, but it didn’t come without any doubts.
“I like to see everything from a defence and tonight they showed some things they hadn’t before,” said the 25-year-old. “When a team comes out with a different look like they did you can question yourself, and whether it was worth all that time watching film.
“But when it mattered most at the end, it paid off because I recognized their defence on that last touchdown play.”
Prior to the play of the game, the Ti-Cats found themselves with a consequential decision to make. Down by 34-19 with 10:07 left, Hamilton was left with a third and goal from the six-yard line.
Much to the displeasure of some fans and even his team, head coach Orlondo Steinauer opted to kick a field goal.
“We were tempted to go for it,” said Steinauer, in his post-game press conference. “I just thought at that point we had an outstanding drive and to come away empty handed wasn’t an option.
“I’ve been a coach in the CFL long enough to know that 10 minutes is a long time.”
Hamilton now heads down the 401 East to take on the Ottawa Redblacks (3-5) next Saturday.
The club’s work ethic on the practice field has them feeling confident.
“We got a PVR mindset,” said Lawrence. “We know what’s going to happen at the end. Everything in between is a part of the show.”