Ticats take down Argos in true Labour Day Classic

Classic.

That’s the only way to describe Monday night’s spectacular donnybrook on Labour Day, won 49-36 by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats over the Toronto Argonauts. Quarterbacks Zach Collaros and Ricky Ray combined for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns through the air while the Ticats erased a 20-point first half deficit for the win.

“We fought through it and it was a lot of fun and came out with a win. It was a great atmosphere,” Collaros said. “Labour Day is always crazy here.”

Things started well for Hamilton as Collaros engineered an open driving touchdown to take a quick 7-0 lead.

Then the wheels fell off.

After an Argonauts field goal, Collaros was stripped by Thomas Gordon, who scooped up the fumble and took it 57 yards for a score. An interception led to a Toronto field goal. Another fumble, another Argo touchdown. Finally, a blocked punt led to yet another major.

Combine that with some bad tackling and inept coverage and the Ticats’ fumble-interception-fumble-blocked punt combo turned their early lead into a 27-7 deficit. The Hamilton faithful were booing on Labour Day.

Running back C.J. Gable was one of the few first-half bright spots and his 52-yard scamper helped get the Ticats back on track. It led to a Collaros to Brandon Banks touchdown pass and restored some semblance of order to the universe.

The teams traded field goals before the half, Hamilton’s Brett Maher connecting with zeros on the clock, and Toronto led 30-17 after 30 minutes.

The Ticats made it a once score game with their first possession of the third quarter, Collaros marching them 92 yards in seven plays — and getting a questionable pass interference call — and finishing it with a two-yard toss to Terrence Toliver.

Another costly mistake by Hamilton — a too many men penalty on third down — gave the Argonauts a key first down and they took advantage, Tori Gurley making a circus catch for his second touchdown.

Hamilton responded with their own magic man, Luke Tasker hauling in a 39-yard over-the-shoulder bomb from Collaros while narrowly avoiding the goalpost. The major cut the lead to 36-31.

Then the defence stepped up.

Set up on the Ticat two yard line, Ray was planted by Hamilton defensive end Adrian Tracy as he threw and Courtney Stephen hauled in the easy interception. On the next series, Tracy swarmed Ray as he threw and forced an incompletion, handing Hamilton good field position.

Five plays later, Collaros connected with Chad Owens at the Ticats had their first lead since the first quarter.

Owens held on to the ball as a keepsake.

“I mean, 100th game, first Labour Day as a Ticat, go ahead score – pick one,” Owens said.”I haven’t kept a ball in a while and this felt like a good one to keep.”

But the defence wasn’t done. Emanuel Davis intercepted Ray and returned it 55 yards to pay dirt and Hamilton led 46-36 with just under six minutes to play. The Argos went for it on third down with just three to play and the ball fell incomplete. Maher added a late field for the final margin.

“I’m just really proud of the guys,” said head coach Kent Austin. “They always play hard, they don’t give up.”

With the win, the Ticats improve to 5-5 and, just as importantly, win the season series over the now 4-6 Argonauts. The teams play again next Sunday in Toronto.

Notes: Maher has now hit 18 straight field goals … Ticats won the toss and elected to receive … Hamilton scratches were defensive tackle Linden Gaydosh and linebacker Will Smith … Maher has now hit 19 straight field goals … attendance was 24,512, the largest crowd in Tim Hortons Field history

 

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