Ticats sweep series with Argonauts

GUELPH, Ont. — C.J. Gable and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats took a huge step towards securing a home playoff game Monday.

GUELPH, Ont. — C.J. Gable and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats took a huge step towards securing a home playoff game Monday.

The rookie rushed for 118 yards and a TD as the Ticats held on to beat the Toronto Argonauts 24-18 and sweep an important home-and-home series with their arch rivals.

Hamilton reached the 8-7 mark through 15 games for just the second time since ’01 and pulled to within two points of first-place Toronto (9-6) in the East Division. The Ticats moved four points ahead of third-place Montreal (6-9), which lost 34-27 to Winnipeg (3-12) on Monday, heading into a crucial home-and-home series the Alouettes.

“It means a lot to us, we need this as motivation for the next game,” Gable said “We know we have a good team here . . . some games we show it, some games we don’t but now we’re putting it all together.”

But Toronto, which struggled with consistency and penalties all game, made it interesting. Ricky Ray’s 13-yard TD to Jason Barnes cut Hamilton’s lead to six points at 6:43 of the fourth before an enthusiastic season-high Alumni Stadium gathering of 13,362.

“These fans were loud as heck,” Ticats quarterback Henry Burris said. “The fact we didn’t have Labour Day, Thanksgiving made up for it in proper fashion, especially with what was on the line with us two being in the top two slots in the East.

“The fans definitely rose to the occasion and we’re very thankful for that.”

Ray then took over at Toronto’s four-yard line with 4:02 remaining and drove the Argos to Hamilton 37 before being picked off by Hamilton’s Arthur Hobbs in the end zone. That was Ray’s first interception this season.

“Just really proud the defence got a turnover at the end of the game,” Ticats coach Kent Austin said. “A couple times this year we’ve not been able to close teams out on that side of the ball but they were able to do that tonight against a really good football team.

“Great teams string football games together. They don’t have one good game, then are off for a week then another good game, then off a week. All we focus on now is stringing the next one together.”

Hamilton also beat Toronto 33-19 at Rogers Centre on Oct. 4 to clinch the season series 2-1. That earned the Ticats the Ballard Trophy but, more importantly, the tiebreaker should the two finish tied in the standings.

Burris was 27-of-36 passing for 350 yards and an interception. Rookie Luke Tasker had seven catches for a game-high 113 yards while Gable added five catches for 46 yards.

“We knew at some point they were going to make a run and they definitely did there in the fourth quarter,” Burris said. “But to see our defence go out there and put the game away and make a huge stop when the pressure was on, that gives our team a lot of confidence.

“Right now, we’re going after that home playoff game and we’re going to continue moving forward and do what we can to make sure we get a home playoff game at least, then go for first after that.”

Ray finished 26-of-34 passing for 303 yards with two TDs and the pick in his first start after missing six games with a shoulder injury. Toronto was 4-2 over that span under sophomore Zach Collaros.

But Toronto was lucky to still be within striking distance following a sloppy first half. The Argos mustered just five first downs and 137 net yards and were flagged 10 times yet only trailed 16-8, thanks to Ray’s 32-yard TD strike to Spencer Watt at 13:41 of the second.

“We’re a good football team but we’re not good enough to beat ourselves and get away with it,” said Argos head coach Scott Milanovich. “We need to play better football . . . you need to play your best football when you enter November and right now I guess it would be safe to say we are not doing that.

“He (Ray) felt like he had made good decisions. It was a weird game, hard to get a feel with how he was playing.”

Toronto also fielded a defence that featured five players in new positions. That included Neiko Thorpe making his first CFL start in place of all-star cornerback Pat Watkins (personal issues) while offensively the defending Grey Cup champions were without receiver John Chiles (hamstring) and tailback Chad Kackert (shoulder).

Toronto still remains in the driver’s seat for top spot in the East. It plays a home-and-home series with Winnipeg before finishing against Montreal.

Hamilton opened the second half impressively with a seven-play, 69-yard scoring march capped by Gable’s two-yard TD run at 4:01 of the third. The Ticats then went 69 yards on 10 plays but Brett Lauther missed a 28-yard field goal that went for a single and a 24-8 advantage.

Toronto drove to the Hamilton 11-yard line late in the third, resulting in Swayze Waters’ 18-yard field goal at 14:47 to cut the Argos’ deficit to 13 points.

Waters also had two converts and a single.

Dan LeFevour ran for Hamilton’s other two TDs. Lauther added the converts and a single with the other points coming on a safety.

NOTES: Monday’s game was a homecoming for Argos special-teams coach Mike O’Shea, who played at Guelph (1989-’92) and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame . . . Chiles has a team-high eight TD catches for Toronto . . . Kicker Luca Congi and running back Chevon Walker were among Hamilton’s scratches . . . Ray came in with a 78.3 per cent completion average and if he maintains that pace he’d break the CFL single-season mark of 74 per cent held by Calgary offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The union representing workers at the Olymel meat processing plant in Red Deer confirmed the death of a worker on Wednesday. (Advocate file photo)
Union confirms death of worker from Olymel plant

An investigation by the UFCW 401 local has confirmed a fourth death… Continue reading

Sunterra Market is preparing to open at Bower Place. (Photo from Facebook)
Sunterra Market to open in Red Deer in March

Bower Place to welcome grocery shoppers

Weather brief (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer experiences driest winter in 99 years

The city only had 9.6 millimeters of precipitation between December and February

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 has been climbing up since Jan. 20 at Red Deer's Olymel meat processing plant. (File photo by Advocate Staff)
Some Olymel workers return for training, plant reopening date not set

Union calls for delay of opening as workers fear for safety

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative MP David Sweet joins chorus calling for end to COVID-19 restrictions

OTTAWA — A Conservative MP has joined the chorus of voices calling… Continue reading

The Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade is seen in Lower Onslow, N.S., Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian and another RCMP officer during last year’s mass shooting will remain on administrative duties until internal inquiries are completed .THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
N.S. RCMP who shot at firehall on administrative duty during internal reviews of case

HALIFAX — The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Efforts to increase Canada's ability to produce vaccines is among over 100 projects receiving new federal money. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Over 100 new projects to get $518 million in federal research funding

OTTAWA — Efforts to boost Canada’s ability to produce vaccines are among… Continue reading

Hassan Diab, whose allegations of involvement in a 1980 synagogue bombing were dismissed by French judges for lack of evidence, listens during a press release on the release of an external review on his extradition by the Justice Department on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Friday, July 26, 2019. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is signalling that Canada will stand up for Diab, an Ottawa sociology professor facing trial in France, following calls from human-rights advocates to intervene. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Trudeau signals support for Hassan Diab as Ottawa professor appeals case in France

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is signalling Canada will stand up… Continue reading

NDP MP Niki Ashton stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, April 26, 2018. Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing anti-Semitism concerns ahead of a public conversation between NDP MP Niki Ashton and former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Jewish groups raise anti-Semitism concerns ahead of NDP MP’s chat with Corbyn

OTTAWA — Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing concerns about anti-Semitism… Continue reading

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up… Continue reading

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed optimism Wednesday that his government’s timeline for… Continue reading

UCP MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka Ron Orr. (File photo)
MLA Ron Orr: Benchmarks were achieved but goalposts were moved

Orr responds to concerns, calls on province to fully open Step 2

Most Read