Four reasons the Toronto Argonauts lost the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton

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The Toronto Argonauts lost the annual Labour Day Classic to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats by a score of 32-19 at Tim Hortons Field.

A win would have firmly entrenched the Argos as the No. 1 team in the East Division, while the loss has moved them into a three-way tie with Hamilton and Montreal at 2-2.

Toronto will have a chance to exact their revenge in the second half of the home-and-home on Friday, but for now here are four reasons Toronto lost to Hamilton.

Quick explosions

Toronto allowed two explosion plays in relatively quick succession on Monday that resulted in a pair of touchdowns for the Ticats.

The first came in the third quarter when Frankie Williams returned a punt for 67 yards after finding a seam down the middle of the field. I don’t know if Brandon Calver, Trevor Hoyte, and Eli Harold needed to collapse their lanes earlier, but there’s no excuse for giving up a big return through the middle of your cover team.

The second came moments later when Dane Evans found rookie receiver Tim White for a 57-yard touchdown pass. There appeared to be some confusion with the coverage as Hamilton’s three receivers broke out of a bunch formation using motion.

Veteran defensive back Jeff Richards is a good player but there’s no excuse for letting a receiver blow by you like this without safety help. White obviously has impressive speed and used it to record his first career CFL score.

Can I get a turnover?

The Argos were unable to generate a takeaway against the Ticats, which made it hard for the team to generate any momentum. Joel Whitford averaged an impressive 41.9 net yards in the punt game, so a turnover would have been key for Toronto to flip the field and gain some field position.

Dexter McCoil dropped an easy interception in the fourth quarter that he could have potentially returned for a touchdown. A score would have made it a fourteen-point game with 10:45 remaining, which could have put the Argos in a chance to make a late comeback.

Protection defection

The Tiger-Cats had defensive tackles Ted Laurent and Dylan Wynn together in the lineup for the first time all season and the Argos had a tough time corralling the dominant duo. Rookie left guard Peter Nicastro got beaten for two sacks, while Ja’Gared Davis wreaked havoc coming off the edge.

Nick Arbuckle’s second interception, which sealed the game for Hamilton, came as a direct result of pressure off the edge from Tunde Adeleke.

A quarterback is only as good as their protection and Arbuckle was not given enough time to make throws on Monday. Toronto’s offensive line was also unable to open many holes for running back John White IV with him rushing for just 32 yards on nine carries.

Too little, too late

Ryan Dinwiddie benched Nick Arbuckle in favour of McLeod Bethel-Thompson late in the fourth quarter, which provided a nice spark. Hamilton’s defence was willing to give up yardage underneath, sure, but Bethel-Thompson still put up 111 passing yards and one touchdown in the final 4:22 of the game.

The problem is that it was too little too late. If Bethel-Thompson was going to have a chance to bring his team back into the game, he needed more time to make that happen.

It’s possible that Dinwiddie was simply looking to save Arbuckle from taking any further punishment late in the game, but I would have liked to see a quarterback switch made sooner if one was going to be made at all.