Ticats stay in East title hunt at Argos' expense
Just 2 points separate CFL's top 6 teams
Renauld Williams and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats made Ejiro Kuale and Cory Boyd eat their words Saturday night.
Williams anchored a staunch Hamilton defence that kept Toronto out of the end zone and guided the Ticats to an important 27-12 win over the Argonauts.
Last week after Toronto edged Winnipeg 25-24, linebacker Kuale guaranteed an Argos victory over the Ticats. And tailback Boyd added fuel to the fire by suggesting he'd run for 200 yards against Hamilton.
But neither were a factor. Kuale had one tackle while Boyd rushed for 60 yards on 11 carries before an announced Rogers Centre gathering of 21,853 with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto FC also playing home games.
Heading into the contest, the Ticats' downplayed the Argos' brash statements but Williams admitted they certainly served as incentive for the Hamilton squad.
"We were confident all week but it gave a little edge to the game," he said. "Nobody likes anybody to guarantee a win, that's total disrespect and we have a good team.
"Guys take it personal …we played with pride, we played with intensity the whole game and didn't want to give them anything."
Ticats' defensive end Stevie Baggs insisted the Argos' bravado had no affect on his preparation but still had fun with it all after the game.
"The only place you put trash is in the Baggs," he said. "That's where you put it, in the Baggs, baby.
"C'mon, man, that's good, that's clever."
Boyd wasn't talking afterwards but Kuale stood by his words.
"I have nothing to regret," he said. "They beat us.
"They got lucky on the big plays but they were the better team tonight."
Hamilton (7-6) won its second straight to move to within two points of top spot in the East Division, currently shared by Montreal and Winnipeg with 8-5 records. The Ticats host the Blue Bombers on Friday night while the Alouettes are home to the Argos on Oct. 10.
Toronto (3-10) suffered its sixth straight loss to Hamilton to leave its playoff hopes hanging by a thread. The Argos trail the Ticats by eight points with both teams having five regular-season games remaining.
Argos coach/GM Jim Barker wasn't ready to concede the season just yet but made it clear that players will be also be auditioning for jobs in 2012 the next five weeks.
"We have five games left and we're going to battle hard to be an eight-win team," said Barker. "It's incumbent upon our players to realize the urgency.
"They have five more opportunities to show what they can do."
What's more, Toronto will have to finish ahead of Hamilton in the East Division standings as the Ticats clinched the season series.
The Argos' crossover hopes are just as precarious as Edmonton and B.C. are tied for second in the West with 14 points and five games to play.
All of the top six teams in the CFL are either 7-6 or 8-5.
Hamilton certainly didn't give the Argos much offensively, holding them to 12 first downs and 271 net yards while forcing three turnovers. Toronto starter
Steven Jyles was 12-of-25 passing for just 142 yards, but that's an upgrade from the 88 yards passing he had against Winnipeg.
"The opportunities were there," said Jyles. "They got ahead of us and we'd make a few plays but then didn't get it done."
Hamilton coach Marcel Bellefeuille said keeping Toronto out of the end zone was big for the Ticats. All the Argos mustered were four Noel Prefontaine field goals.
"You're not going to get beat with a team kicking field goals," he said. "Especially because we're in a position where we can score points.
"What I liked most about this was I thought it was just a good, tough, gritty win. We were expected to win the game and we came out and won it by 15 points and played a team that had everything to lose and played hard at home."
Hamilton's offence was solid, rolling up 514 nets yards and 25 first downs while holding the ball over 36 minutes.
Kevin Glenn was 21-of-30 passing for 301 yards with a touchdown but also threw three interceptions with his final one part of a bizarre stretch in the fourth quarter.
Glenn drove Hamilton to the Toronto eight-yard line before being intercepted by Lin-J Shell. However, Shell fumbled on the return and Glenn recovered at the Argos' 25-yard line.
That set up backup Quinton Porter's one-yard run at 7:58 that cemented the win for Hamilton. He scored after Toronto defensive end Ricky Foley was ejected following a melee to put Hamilton at the Argos' one-yard line.
"That was embarrassing to our club," Barker said of Foley's ejection. "[Foley] said they leg-whipped him but it is what the officials say it is.
"We haven't taken selfish penalties all year …"
Adding insult to injury, Hamilton recovered an ensuing onside kick but eventually punted.
Hamilton rookie tailback Terry Grant had the game's biggest play, an 89-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that not only erased a 3-0 Toronto lead but came after Glenn surrendered two early interceptions.
Grant, who now has three TDs in his first two CFL games, finished with 115 yards rushing on 10 carries.
"It was a simple read for the quarterback, he gave it to me and I did what I did," Grant said. "Just run, that's my job."
Chris Williams scored Hamilton's other touchdown. Justin Medlock added the converts and two field goals.
Barker said after the game the Argos are negotiating a new deal for Jyles, who is scheduled to become a free agent in the off-season.