Ticats blow early lead in pre-season loss to Argos

Toronto quarterback Dakota Prukop hit Jamel Johnson for a 28-yard touchdown late in the fourth as the Argonauts climbed out of a 16-0 deficit to defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23-16 at Tim Hortons Field in CFL pre-season action Friday night.

Prukop, fighting for a spot on the practice roster, was the third Toronto pivot to see action and led the 97-yard game-winning scoring drive, taking the lead for the first time with 3:02 left in the game.

James Wilder and Jimmy Ralph also scored touchdowns for Toronto while Brian Tyms and Ross Scheuerman scored for Hamilton.

Toronto kickers Lirim Hajrullahu and Ronnie Pfeffer both saw playing time. Hajrullahu kicked a convert. Pfeffer missed both field-goal attempts, from 38 and 48 yards. He added a 68-yard punt single and a convert. Hamilton kicker Sergio Castillo kicked two converts.

Pfeffer’s punt single made it 16-15 just 19 seconds into the fourth and Prukop came in at quarterback for the Argos. Pfeffer’s missed 48-yarder tied the game at 16 with 9:39 left to play.

Hamilton used four quarterbacks during the game: Zach Collaros, Jeremiah Masoli, Cody Keith, and Logan Kilgore. Toronto started McLeod Bethel-Thompson, followed by Jeff Mathews and Prukop.

Collaros started the game for Hamilton and left early in the second quarter right after throwing the game’s first touchdown, a six-yarder to Tyms. He finished with 10 completions on 17 attempts for 126 yards and one TD.

Collaros’ health will be a storyline this year. He has missed time due to concussions and this time last year was still out of the line-up recovering from a knee injury suffered in 2015. He didn’t return until Week 8.

Hamilton back up, Masoli, took over in the second and took advantage of Toronto receiver Joe Morgan’s fumble on his own 40, immediately leading a scoring drive that ended with Scheuerman’s two-yard plunge to give the Ticats a 16-0 lead.

A conceded safety by Toronto’s Hajrullahu midway through the first quarter was set up by Ticat Adrian Tracy’s sack of Bethel-Thompson at the Toronto two-yard line and put Hamilton on the board first.

Bethel-Thompson started at pivot for Toronto. The 28-year-old out of Sacramento State is also battling for a spot on the practice roster. He finished the first quarter with zero completions on five attempts and the Argo offence only generated nine yards.

He made his first pass completion on his first play of the second, and the ball was promptly fumbled by Morgan, setting up a Ticat score. But late in the second he engineered a 39-yard scoring drive that ended with a one-yard TD run by Wilder to get to the half down 16-7. He finished with five completions on 13 attempts for 78 yards.

Ricky Ray, who has only started 12 games in the past two years due to an assortment of injuries, is expected to start the season for Toronto with Drew Willy expected to be his backup.

Mathews started the third for Toronto. Late in the quarter he led a 75-yard scoring drive, ending with a 22-yard TD pass to Ralph. The two-point convert attempt failed but the Argos pulled to 16-14. That would be it for Mathews, who went 12 for 15, 136 yards and one TD.

Masoli finished the night completing five-of-six pass attempts for 48 yards and one interception, plus a 16-yard rush. He was replaced by Keith with under three minutes left in the third. Keith was pulled late in the fourth having completed one-of-four pass attempts for 11 yards and was replaced by Kilgore, who finished completing two-of-six for 68 yards.

– CP

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