HAMILTON — C.J. Gable’s one-yard TD run with 2:30 remaining earned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats their first win of the season, a lightning-delay 24-22 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Monday night.
Gable scored after June Jones, making his CFL head-coaching debut, successfully challenged a pass interference call against former Ticat Rico Murray, who was defending against Luke Tasker in the endzone. That gave the Ticats the ball at the Toronto one-yard line.
Toronto drove to the Hamilton 30-yard line on its next possession, but Lirim Hajrullahu missed from 37 yards out for the single with 45 seconds remaining. The Argos got the ball at their 35-yard line with two seconds left but couldn’t pull out the miracle comeback win.
Ricky Ray’s 16-yard strike to DeVier Posey at 4:05 of the fourth put Toronto (4-7) ahead 21-17 after falling behind 17-7 in the third. The Argos fell to 0-4 at Tim Hortons Field and remain second in the East Division, one point behind the Ottawa Redblacks (4-6-1).
Ray hit Posey on a 10-yard touchdown pass at 10:36 of the third to pull Toronto to within 17-14. He finished 34-of-47 passing for 325 yards and two TDs.
Jeremiah Masoli completed 19-of-33 passes for 219 yards and a TD in leading Hamilton (1-8) to victory. The Ticats scored touchdowns 25 seconds apart in the third to take a 10-point advantage.
Masoli, starting in place of Zach Collaros, hit Brandon Banks on a 64-yard TD strike at 1:10. Just 25 seconds later, Felix Faubert-Lussier recovered Martese Jackson’s fumble on the kickoff and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown and 17-7 advantage before a handful of fans. The majority of the 23,926 Tim Hortons Field sellout left during the two plus-hour first-half lightning delay.
Play was halted at 6:45 of the second with Toronto leading 6-0. During the delay, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie personally delivered pizza to media assembled in the pressbox.
It was no longer raining when play resumed two hours, eight minutes later. And the brisk 39 kilometre-an-hour wind that blew to open the contest was non-existent.
Masoli’s start was his first since Oct. 21, 2016 when he threw for 359 yards and three TDs in a 39-36 overtime win over Ottawa.
Collaros had dropped his previous 12 starts, one short of the CFL record.
The win capped a miserable bye week for Hamilton, highlighted by the club having to rescind the hiring of assistant coach Art Briles. The Ticats touched off a firestorm of controversy with the addition of 61-year-old Briles, who was fired last year as head coach at Baylor in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that included members of the football team.
Less than 12 hours after hiring Briles, the Ticats reversed the decision amid pressure from the CFL and a serious backlash from fans, sponsors and the media. Shortly after Hamilton’s decision, a letter of support written by Baylor’s general counsel for Briles emerged.
Hajrullahu booted two field goals, two converts and two singles for Toronto.
Sergio Castillo kicked a field goal and three converts for Hamilton.
It was an inauspicous start for Hamilton, which opened with a time-count violation before Masoli threw an interception to Marcus Ball on the game’s third play. That set up Hajrullahu’s 35-yard field goal at 2:46.
Hajrullahu’s 13-yard boot at 3:10 of the second put the Argos ahead 6-0, capping a 79-yard, 11-play drive. Jackson returned a punt 101 yards for a TD at 5:28 but it came back on Toronto’s fourth holding penalty at that point of the contest.
So instead of leading 13-0, Toronto found itself at its eight-yard line with a six-point advantage. Two plays later with the Argos at their 21-yard line, action was suspended because of lightning.
When play resumed, an incompletion on second down forced Toronto to punt. But the Argos got the ball right back after Hamilton was called for too many men on the field.
Both teams scored on the first drives once play resumed. Hajrullahu put Toronto ahead 7-0 with a single off a missed 44-yard field goal before Castillo connected from 57 yards out.
Hamilton appeared poised to try a 49-yard field goal late in the first half but poor clock management and a late sack resulted in the Ticats getting nothing.