HAMILTON—They were outplayed and outrushed, but not outdone.
The Toronto Argonauts pulled out a 43-35 win in Hamilton on Friday night — their third in a row and first ever at Tim Hortons Field — thanks to some last-minute miracle work by quarterback Ricky Ray, running back James Wilder Jr. and wideout DeVier Posey.
Ray completed his second of three touchdown passes, a 25-yard strike to Posey, with 33 seconds left in regulation time, cutting the Tiger-Cats’ lead to 35-33.
The Argos called Wilder’s number for a two-point convert attempt and he delivered, sending the game to overtime — where Ray and Posey hooked up again on the third play for the game-winning 13-yard TD, and Wilder delivered another two-point conversion.
That snapped a seven-game Argo losing skid in Hamilton since the stadium opened on Sept. 1, 2014.
“First, I really want to say what a great job (Ticats coach) June Jones has done with that team,” said Argos coach Marc Trestman of a Hamilton club that started the season with eight straight losses before clawing to 3-10. “They made plays all over the field. They stopped our run game. But the bottom line is, we made plays when we had to. It’s a privilege to coach this team.”
Ray, who was sacked four times, completed 25 of 38 passes for 330 yards and engineered the kind of comeback performance that has been a trademark of his career.
“That’s the Ricky Ray. He’s so tough, and we had to finish tough to help him out,” Posey said of his QB.
With the win, the Argos improved to 7-7 and now hold the tiebreaker edge over all three East Division rivals (2-1 vs. Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal). They’re also first in the East with four games left, all against Western opponents.
“For sure, to have the tiebreakers and be out front, that’s where we want to be,” Ray said.
Wilder was held to 49 yards on 13 carries after two weeks of stellar rushing performances. He was outdone on the stats sheet by Hamilton’s C.J. Gable, who ran for 153 yards on 16 carriers.
With Gable sidelined by a shoulder injury last week, Alex Green rushed for 140 yards in a 24-23 win over the B.C. Lions. Jones had to decide whether to hand the ball back to Green or bring back a healthy Gable on Saturday. The coach apparently made the right choice. It was Gable’s fourth 100-yard rushing game since he entered the league in 2013, and first since July 26, 2015.
East Division clubs have been getting a lot of mileage out of the ground game of late. On Friday night, William Powell broke a pair of Redblacks records with a 187-yard performance — most in a single game in franchise history, and his team-best third 100-yard game in a row.
Argo Martese Jackson ran back a punt 92 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, while Ray hooked up with Armanti Edwards for another major. Backup QB Cody Fajardo scored from one yard out to tie the score at 21-21 entering the fourth quarter.
Toronto linebacker Marcus Ball looked to be seriously hurt with a lower leg injury in the second quarter, but the gutsy veteran returned in the third and recovered a fumble on the Hamilton 12-yard line that led to Fajardo’s plunge.