07/16/2015 10:45 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT

Cato connects with Green as Alouettes top Ticats 17-13 in defensive battle

MONTREAL - It took a spectacular touchdown catch by S.J. Green and five turnovers for the Montreal Alouettes to get some payback on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Green's third-quarter reception and big games from the defence and kick coverage teams lifted the Alouettes to a 17-13 victory over the Tiger-Cats in a defensive CFL struggle Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium.

"We knew coming into the game it would be a tough matchup," said Montreal's rookie quarterback Rakeem Cato, now 2-1 as a starter. "Play physical and keep grinding."

Boris Bede had three field goals and a single for Montreal (2-2), which avenged a loss to the Ticats in the East Division final in November.

The Alouettes have not lost at home to Hamilton in 18 games since Oct. 20, 2002.

Ray Holley scored his first career touchdown and Jason Medlock had a pair of field goals for Hamilton (1-2).

It was hardly the most entertaining game for the crowd of 20,773, with both defences playing tight and neither team able to move the ball consistently.

Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros had a slight edge, completing 27 of 42 passes for 296 yards to Cato's 23 tosses for 264, but the Alouettes rookie did not throw a pick while Collaros was intercepted three times.

The Ticats also fumbled the ball away once and gave it away on downs.

"Way too many penalties," said Hamilton coach Kent Austin. "We didn't play well offensively.

"I think we played well enough defensively to win the game, but we had our opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. And you can't turn the ball over against a good team like that."

Another key was stopping Brandon Banks, the dynamic kick returner who had scored off punts in each of the Ticats first two games. He also returned two for TDs in Hamilton's playoff win over Montreal.

Banks was held to 33 yards on five punt returns. He returned the opening kickoff of the second half 110 yards for a TD, but it was called back for an illegal block. Mostly, Bede tried to keep it away from him.

The Tiger-Cats stuffed Montreal's running game, holding CFL rushing leader Tyrell Sutton to two yards on six carries, but Cato responded through the air, including seven passes to veteran Fred Stamps for 119 yards.

The Alouettes got a punt single 1:56 in and added Bede's 21-yard field goal at 10:45 after Chip Cox picked off a Collaros pass.

The Tiger-Cats answered that with a 12-play 75-yard drive capped by Holley's three-yard TD reception 3:47 into the second quarter.

A Jonathan Hefney interception gave Montreal a glittering chance, but the Hamilton defence stopped them on three plays from the one for a turnover on downs.

The Ticats couldn't switch the momentum and Montreal marched back for a 42-yard Bede boot, but Medlock topped that with a 53-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the half.

Cato mounted a nine-play 87-yard drive leading to a TD throw on the run 20 yards to Green, who stretched out to snare the pass at the sidelines, to put Montreal in the lead 14-10. Bede added a 27-yard boot 9:48 into the fourth quarter.

Defensive lineman Alan-Michael Cash intercepted with 1:47 left to play and on Hamilton's final drive, Terrence Toliver fumbled and Gabriel Knapton recovered.

The Alouettes wore their grey, feather-themed alternate jerseys before a crowd of 20,772. They are 22-9 all-time in "third" jerseys, including 9-0 against Hamilton.

The Alouettes have a bye next week, while the Ticats have a 10-day break before their next game July 26 at Saskatchewan.