The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have finally beaten a team other than the Toronto Argonauts.
Quinton Porter, making only his second career start, threw for 429 yards and five touchdowns to guide the Ticats to a surprising 44-38 victory over the first-place Montreal Alouettes on Saturday in Hamilton.
"We've been working so hard all year … so this is going to be a good release," Porter said.
Rookie receiver Prechae Rodriguez also had a brilliant performance for the Ticats, catching 12 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
Prior to Saturday's win, Hamilton's only two victories of the season had come against the Argos.
"A lot of times it looked like things were going to fall apart," said Porter, crediting his offensive line for giving up only one sack — Hamilton has given up a league-worst 56 this season.
"But they kept it together. Everyone in the huddle stayed together — stayed positive and that's what you've got to do."
The game marked the first time Hamilton (3-11) has beaten the Alouettes in six years.
Marcel Bellefeuille, who got his first victory as head coach, said his young team finally stayed in the entire game mentally.
"Guys were supporting each other on the sidelines," he said. "Guys were calm. The guys were focussed. It comes down to learning how to do that, and keeping your composure."
Quarterback Anthony Calvillo threw 473 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort for Montreal.
The Alouettes receivers went wild against Hamilton's secondary. Jamel Richardson gained 149 yards and scored two touchdowns, while Canadian Ben Cahoon caught 10 passes for 107 yards and a pair of scores.
Cahoon also became the top Canadian receiver in CFL history with 834 receptions.
Despite the defeat, Montreal (9-5) clinched first place in the East Division ahead of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-9), who dropped a 36-22 contest to the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday night.
Holding a slim 24-23 lead, the Ticats struck at 2:24 of the third quarter as Porter tossed his fourth touchdown of the game, hitting Rodriguez with a 23-yard pass.
The Ticats then converted an Avon Cobourne fumble to go up 38-23 early in the fourth. Rodriguez hauled in his third TD from Porter on a four-yard pass.
But the Als answered quickly during their next drive when Calvillo found Richardson from six-yards out at 10:38 to cut Hamilton's advantage to 38-30.
Hamilton put the game away when defensive back Chris Thompson picked off Calvillo deep in Montreal's end. Kicker Nick Setta gave the Ticats a 41-30 lead, nailing an 11-yard field goal with less than four minutes remaining.
"On offence, what killed us were the turnovers," Calvillo said.
"We had too many, and that's just something we cannot do if we want to win in this league. So we've got to continue to work on that and not let it happen because when it happens on the road, you're going to let teams stay in [the game]."
Calvillo's seven-yard touchdown pass to receiver Cahoon combined with Avon Cobourne's two-point conversion with less than two minutes left brought Montreal to within three points.
However, the Als failed to recover the on-side kick, and Setta rounded out the scoring with an 12-yard field goal.
Porter held the hot hand from the beginning of the game, throwing three TD passes including a pair to Rodriguez.