Ticats down Argos to register sweep of home-and-home series
Toronto Argonauts running back Jerious Norwood (right) is tackled by Hamilton Tiger-Cats' linebacker Brandon Isaac during first half CFL action in Guelph, Ont., Monday, Oct.14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Published Monday, October 14, 2013 8:39PM EDT
GUELPH, Ont. -- Dan LeFevour ran for two TDs while C.J. Gable rushed for one as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats held on to beat the Toronto Argonauts 24-18 on Monday to sweep their home-and-home series.
Hamilton (8-7) recorded consecutive wins for the first time this season to pull to within two points of first-place Toronto (9-6) in the East Division. The Ticats moved four points ahead of third-place Montreal (6-9), which lost 34-27 to Winnipeg on Monday, heading into a crucial home-and-home series the Alouettes.
But Toronto, which struggled with consistency and penalties all game, made it interesting. Ricky Ray's 13-yard TD to Jason Barnes cut Hamilton's lead to six points at 6:43 of the fourth before a season-high Alumni Stadium gathering of 13,362.
Ray then took over at Toronto's four-yard line with 4:02 remaining and drove the Argos to Hamilton 37 before being picked off by Hamilton's Arthur Hobbs in the end zone. That was Ray's first interception of the year.
Hamilton also beat Toronto 33-19 at Rogers Centre on Oct. 4 to clinch the season series 2-1. That earned the Ticats the Ballard Trophy but, more importantly, the tiebreaker should the two finish tied in the standings.
Ray had two TD strikes in his first start after missing six games with a shoulder injury. Toronto was 4-2 over that span under sophomore Zach Collaros.
Toronto fielded a defence that featured five players in new positions. That included Neiko Thorpe making his first CFL start in place of all-star cornerback Pat Watkins (personal issues) while offensively the defending Grey Cup champions were without receiver John Chiles (hamstring) and tailback Chad Kackert (shoulder).
The Argos still remain in the driver's seat for top spot in the East. They'll play a home-and-home series with Winnipeg before finishing against Montreal.
Hamilton opened the second half impressively with a seven-play, 69-yard scoring march capped by Gable's two-yard TD run at 4:01 of the third. The Ticats then went 69 yards on 10 plays but Brett Lauther missed a 28-yard field goal that went for a single and a 24-8 advantage.
Toronto drove to the 11-yard line late in the third, resulting in Swayze Waters' 18-yard field goal at 14:47 to cut Hamilton's lead to 13 points.
Spencer Watt scored Toronto's other touchdown while Waters added the converts and a single.
Lauther added the converts for Hamilton and a single while the other points came on a safety.
Ray's 32-yard TD strike to Watt at 13:41 of the second pulled Toronto to within 16-8 at halftime despite plenty of sloppiness on both sides of the ball. Watt had to score twice as his 17-yard grab at 13:35 was negated by a holding penalty before an offside call had the Argos first and 25 from the Hamilton 32.
Toronto was very fortunate to be down by just eight points considering Hamilton had 17 first downs (Argos managed five), had the ball for over 20 minutes and held a 272-137 edge in net yards. What's more, the visitors were flagged for 10 of the 14 first-half penalties.
Both teams blew glorious early scoring chances. First, Hamilton's Rico Murray dropped a sure pick-six on Toronto's opening possession before Thorpe recovered a Ticats' fumble. But the Argos only got a single at 7:07 of the first as a bad hold contributed to Waters missing from 35 yards out.
Hamilton went ahead 2-1 on a bizarre play as rookie Luke Tasker fumbled inside Toronto's 10-yard line but Jalil Carter kicked the ball through the endzone for the safety. LeFevour put Hamilton ahead 9-1 with a one-yard TD run at 14:03.
LeFevour capped a 69-yard, seven-play march with a second one-yard TD run at 7:24.
NOTES: Monday's game was a homecoming for Argos special-teams coach Mike O'Shea, who played at Guelph (1989-'92) and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame . . . Chiles has a team-high eight TD catches for Toronto . . . Kicker Luca Congi and running back Chevon Walker were among Hamilton's scratches . . . Ray came in with a 78.3 per cent completion average and if he maintains that pace he'd break the CFL single-season mark of 74 per cent held by Calgary offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson