Ticats (barely) take down Argos in Labour Day re-match

Matt Coates; Terrell Sinkfield Jr.;

Zach Collaros punched the air, turned to the Argo bench and roared.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cat quarterback had just completed a 11-yard pass to Luke Tasker late in the fourth quarter in his team’s 35-27 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night.

But five days after blowing out the Argos at Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day, the Ticats had a much tougher time of it at the Rogers Centre.

After combining for 30 penalties on Monday, the two teams were flag-friendly again in the re-match, though both will likely take issue with the state of officiating. There were multiple replay challenges in a game that took well over three hours to play.

The game opened with the team’s exchanging miscues. Hamilton’s Zach Collaros ruined a nice-looking drive with his eighth interception of the season only to have Toronto counterpart Trevor Harris do the very same thing a few plays later. It took the Ticats one snap to cash in as Collaros connected with Matt Coates for his first career touchdown catch.

Toronto responded with a scoring drive to tie it, Brandon Whittaker racing into the end zone on a third-down play from the Ticats’ three-yard line before Hamilton restored their advantage with a two point safety early in the second quarter.

A Brandon Banks punt return set up the next Ticats score, Collaros finishing a six-play, 39-yard drive with a short toss to Luke Tasker. A Justin Medlock field goal gave Hamilton a 19-7 halftime lead.

The Argos cut into that advantage on the opening drive of the second half, Harris converting on third-and-eight, then tossing a 42-yard touchdown strike to Tori Gurley. The Ticats responded with a field goal but Harris drove the field again, this time connecting with Anthony Coombs for another major. Former Ticat Dave Stala, subbing for injured kicker Swayze Waters, hit the convert to cut the Hamilton lead to 22-20.

Back came the Ticats. Collaros moved them 68 yards in eight plays and short-yardage quarterback Jeff Matthews plunged in from the one to restore Hamilton’s nine-point advantage. A blocked punt – their second in as many weeks – gave the Ticats excellent field position but the offence couldn’t capitalize and Hamilton settled for a 41-yard Medlock field goal.

A replay challenge by the Argonauts turned a third-and-18 desperation heave into first-and-goal on the Ticats’ doorstep. Toronto punched it in, once again cutting the Hamilton lead to five with five to play.

But Collaros chewed up 3:47 on his final drive – including the key conversion to Tasker – and Medlock put it through from 17 yards to give the visitors and eight-point lead. The Argos moved into Ticat territory but Emanuel Davis’ interception in the end zone sealed it.

With the win, the Ticats improve to 8-3 and take a two game lead over the Argonauts for top spot in the East Division. They face the Edmonton Eskimos at Tim Hortons Field next Saturday.

Notes: attendance was announced at 17,694, including a sizeable contingent of Ticats fans… Hamilton guard Ryan Bomben was dressed for the game but did not play.

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