Toronto Argonauts Game Report - September 4

September 4, 2017

By: Gordon Brown

Each season fans look forward to the what many view as the final weekend of games before summer ends in the CFL. Monday evening marked the annual Labour Day Classic matchup between the Toronto Argonauts (4-6) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-8).

It hasn’t exactly been the best season for Hamilton so far this year, especially after the disastrous week that nearly saw them sign a controversial figure in Art Briles. After receiving significant disapproval from the league and fans alike, Hamilton was unable to follow through with the signing. June Jones would instead make his debut as Hamilton’s head coach in relief of recently fired Kent Austin. The Labour Day Classic is something many look forward to in the league, mostly because of the great rivalry’s and camaraderie involved. And Hamilton fans surely could use the encouragement.

Without much luck under centre for much of this season, Zach Collaros was replaced by Jeremiah Masoli in an attempt to change the Ti-Cats’ fortunes. It would be Masoli’s first start for Hamilton in 2017 after playing in parts of 10 games last season, while posting 2695 yards during the span.

Hamilton would surrender a three-and-out to begin the game and instead allowed the Argos to jump out to an early 3-0 lead on their first possession. Action would remain slow as Toronto didn’t post the next points until the second quarter. Lirim Hajrullahu would post another field goal to make it 6-0 with plenty of time to play. It wasn’t before long that the game was delayed due to dangerous weather conditions. Thunderstorms would cause a lengthy delay in action from 7:32 p.m. until shortly after 9:30 p.m. Sergio Castilla would eventually answer the call and get Hamilton on the board with a field goal of his own to make it 7-3. Castilla would tie this season’s longest field goal with a bomb from 57-yards out.

The weather delay appeared to play into Hamilton’s favour as they continued to flip the script on Toronto. Hamilton came back to score back-to-back touchdowns and take a commanding lead in the process. Masoli opened the third quarter with a 79-yard play to Brandon Banks. Banks hauled in the 64-yard bomb and finished the play off with 15 hard earned yards-after-catch to score. The following kickoff saw a worst-case scenario play out for Toronto as their return-man, Martese Jackson, fumbled the ball after a short return. Hamilton’s Osagie Odiase was responsible for forcing the fumble and allowed his teammate, Felix Faubert-Lussier, to recover and return the ball for an easy go-ahead touchdown. In just two plays the Argos had lost their play and now trailed 17-7.

That wouldn’t stop Ricky Ray as he managed to rally his team to within a single score. Ray connected with DeVier Posey in the end-zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass, making the score 17-14. For the first time this season, Hamilton would carry a lead into the fourth quarter. That stat wouldn’t phase Ricky Ray though, as he managed to come up with another scoring drive to give his team an eventual 21-17 lead. DeVier Posey came down with his second touchdown grab of the night before allowing Lirim Hajrullahu to tack on the extra point. Soon after all it took was a costly defensive pass interference penalty to set up the Ti-Cats with a 1st-and-goal opportunity. C.J. Gable easily punched in the 1-yard run and secured a slight lead over Toronto in the final minutes of regulation time.

A 24-21 didn’t seem very safe as Ricky Ray was set to take the helm, also considering the way Hamilton’s season has gone. Regardless of that fact, Hamilton would go on to narrowly protect their victory despite a scary finish to the quarter. The Ti-Cats gave up a single point in their end-zone and allowed Toronto an opportunity to climb back on top in the dying seconds. Kudos to Hamilton, who would hang on for their long-awaited first victory of the season.

Ironically, the last time Hamilton actually won a game was in Week 18 last season, with Jeremiah Masoli under centre at quarterback. With yet another opportunity to take a step-up on everyone in the East Division, Toronto failed to convert this into a win and remain neck-and-neck with the Montreal Alouettes. The Boatmen will have a week off before taking on the Edmonton Eskimos at home in Week 13. A lot could change by then, but I fully expect Toronto to remain in the mix for first place in the East.

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