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Banks propels Ticats into Grey Cup

Nov 24, 2014 - 12:41 AM Hamilton, ON ( - Brandon Banks returned two punts for touchdowns, Nic Grigsby had two rushing scores and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats beat the Montreal Alouettes 40-24 in Sunday's Eastern Division Final at Tim Horton's Field.

Banks, who also had a 78-yard punt return touchdown called back due to a holding penalty, set a CFL playoff record with 226 punt return yards.

"You don't expect that kind of performance. When you block hard and you have a player like Brandon, things like that can happen," said Hamilton head coach Kent Austin.

Zach Collaros completed 18-of-27 passes for 199 yards in his first career playoff start, helping the Tiger-Cats (10-9) make a second straight trip to the Grey Cup. Hamilton, which lost to Saskatchewan last year, will face Calgary next week at Vancouver's BC Place.

"To go back-to-back is something that should be cherished," Austin added.

Jonathan Crompton was 25-of-38 for 315 yards and threw touchdown passes of 63, 22 and nine yards, but also had three interceptions for Montreal (10-10).

"He has developed throughout the year and he's getting better," Montreal head coach Tom Higgins said about Crompton, who will be the team's No. 1 quarterback going into training camp.

Crompton was picked off by Erik Harris in the third quarter, leading to a 3- yard Grigsby touchdown run.

The Als answered with a 33-yard Sean Whyte field goal, then pulled within 27-24 on Green's 63-yard TD grab with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Justin Medlock kicked a 42-yard field goal to give Hamilton a 30-24 with 5:28 left.

Banks sealed the win less than two minutes later after Montreal was forced to punt. He appeared to be bottled up, but managed to escape and scored on an 88- yard return.

Medlock added a 27-yarder inside of two minutes.

The Als opened the scoring on their second drive when Crompton and Green connected for a touchdown.

Hamilton responded with a 32-yard Medlock field goal and was on the move at the outset of the second quarter, but Collaros fumbled at the end of an 8-yard run to the Montreal 13.

Delvin Breaux picked off Crompton's intended pass to Green two plays later, and the turnover led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Grigsby.

Crompton shook off the interception and found Green again in the end zone to put Montreal back on top at 14-10.

Medlock kicked a 20-yard field goal to cap the ensuing Hamilton drive, then Banks returned a punt 93 yards to give the TiCats the lead with 26 seconds left in the first half.

Banks cut across the field to the left sideline and dodged two tacklers for the go-ahead touchdown.

Game Notes

The Ticats last won the Grey Cup in 1999 ... Montreal has lost eight straight playoff games in Hamilton ... Grigsby had 93 yards on 18 carries ... Green caught six passes for 126 yards.