Chris Williams caught a touchdown and added two more scores on returns Saturday as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Toronto Argonauts 36-27 to pick up their first win of the season.
Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris was 12-of-27 passing for 181 yards and three touchdowns as the Ticats improved to 1-2. Burris was also intercepted once.
Ricky Ray connected on 23-of-38 pass attempts for 227 yards to go along with an interception of his own. Jarious Jackson and Cory Boyd scored touchdowns for Toronto (1-2).
In the end though, the night belonged to Williams, who had a 34-yard TD reception to open the scoring to go along with 88-yard punt return touchdown and another score of 119 yards off a missed field goal.
Andy Fantuz scored his first TD as a Ticat and Bakari Grant added his first of the season on a six-yard reception with eight minutes left in the game to douse any Argo hopes.
It was the second game in a row that Williams has scored on a punt return. That makes a total of seven special teams TDs scored in the first three weeks of the CFL this season. There were only eight scored all of last season.
The Argos were down 21-0 early in the second quarter but pulled to 29-27 with 10:52 left in the fourth before Grant's TD stopped the Toronto momentum. Ticat defensive back Carlos Thomas intercepted Ray at the Toronto 50-yard line with 1:51 left as the crowd of 24,263 at Ivor Wynne Stadium roared a huge sigh of relief.
Toronto kicker Noel Prefontaine made 2-of-3 field-goal attempts, hitting from 15 and 37 yards but missing from 46. He was replaced in the second half by Anthony Alix, who hit from 18 and 19 yards but missed a 24-yard attempt. Hamilton kicker Luca Congi did not attempt a field goal.
Ray moved ahead of Doug Flutie (41,355) into seventh spot on the all-time passing list with 41,463 yards. Burris is already in sixth spot, having jumped over Flutie in the first game of the season.
Burris hit Williams for a 34-yard score 10 minutes into the game to get things started. The Ticats built on the momentum when Toronto's Chad Owens fumbled a punt return and Hamilton linebacker Nathan Kanya recovered it on the Argo 46. Three plays later, Burris found Fantuz for a 24-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead to end the first quarter.
Williams made it 21-0 early in the second quarter on his punt return TD.
Toronto answered with a 71-yard drive that ate up 4:11 on the clock but netted just a Prefontaine field goal and a punt single by Hamilton's Josh Bartel made it 22-3 with 4:39 left in the half.
But the Hamilton offence's failure to keep control of the ball allowed Toronto to score 10 points in the final four minutes. Prefontaine hit a 37-yard field goal, and on their next possession, the Argos drove the ball 56 yards on eight plays, including two pass interference penalties against the Ticats, setting up Jackson's one-yard TD run.
Ticat receiver Bakari Grant fumbled on Hamilton's next possession with 53 seconds left to set up Prefontaine's 46-yard attempt that would have pulled the Argos to within a touchdown. But he missed wide right and Williams surprised everyone by bringing it out of the end zone and returning it for the score to give his team a 29-13 lead at the half locker-room.
Alix came in to replace Prefontaine for the second half and hit an 18-yard field goal, but his 24-yard attempt a couple minutes later went wide and the Argos were down 29-17.
Toronto opened the fourth quarter finishing a 36-yard drive with Boyd's five-yard TD run to pull to 29-24. Argo defensive back Evan McCollough intercepted Burris on the Ticats' next possession, setting up Alix's 19-yard field goal and it was 29-27, but Toronto would get no closer as Grant's final TD sealed the win.