Ticats claw self-destructive Argos
Hamilton's Glenn sharp while Lemon fails to finish promising drives
Every time the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats meet in the CFL, it's a story of disparate cities.
On Monday in Steeltown, however, the true tale was told by a pair of quarterbacks who both threw for over 300 yards.
The Ticats' Kevin Glenn made the most of his opportunities, coming away with points on almost every trip into scoring range in front of a wild, sellout crowd of 30,319.
The Argos' Cleo Lemon, on the other hand, threw two interceptions in the red zone, couldn't find his receivers on another trip and finally ran out of answers for a spirited defence as the Ticats won the Labour Day Classic 28-13.
Overall, the Argos turned the ball over five times.
Hamilton's victory was its fourth straight and the club improved to 5-4 after a tough start. The Ticats are now tied with 5-4 Toronto for second in the East, two points behind Montreal.
The Ticats and Alouettes play next weekend in Hamilton, while the Argos head to B.C.
"We talked at the beginning of the year about the things we needed to do to be successful, and one was win at home, and I think we've been accomplishing that," said Hamilton coach Marcel Bellefeuille, whose team has lost once at Ivor Wynne Stadium this season.
"The second thing was winning the Eastern series because we know it's going to be tight down the stretch, and teams are going to have similar records, and it's going to be important."
Hamilton has already taken the season series with Winnipeg 3-1 and clinched it with Toronto on Monday. That's the first tie-breaker if teams have the same points at the end of the year.
1 not enough
Trailing by 14 at the half despite moving the ball up and down the field almost at will, the Argos came out for the third quarter hoping to finally convert chances.
Lemon was good on seven straight passes, including one to right guard Chris Van Zeyl, who got hurt after gaining nine yards, finally handing off to little used Cory Boyd for the touchdown that closed the gap to seven.
Boyd, the CFL's leading rusher, was steaming when he crossed the line and, for the first time this year, he did not kneel down to pray after a touchdown, instead walking straight to the bench, pointing at the Ticats' defence.
He finished the game with 54 yards on 11 carries, being used mostly as a decoy for a play-action attack that was working but for the mistakes.
Hamilton had an answer two possessions later when Glenn hit Dave Stala on a crossing pattern from 14 yards out, and the two-touchdown lead was restored at 27-13.
Other than a single late in the game, that was the end of the scoring as both defences did their best to allow the offences to create more points. They never did.
No shine on Lemon
The first half was all about Lemon's inability to squeeze anything out of an Argo offence that could have produced at least 18 more points.
Somehow, despite 232 yards in total attack, 186 yards passing and three drives down to what would have been the shadow of the Hamilton goal posts if the sun had been out, Toronto trailed 20-6.
Key were two interceptions by the Hamilton defence, and a blocked punt that combined to leave a sour taste in the mouths of Toronto fans.
The Ticats were first on the board about three minutes in.
Two defensive penalties — the first an obvious slap by Lin-J Shell for 15 yards, and the other a questionable pass interference call on Willie Middlebrooks that put the ball on the Toronto one — set up a short run by DeAndra' Cobb for a 7-0 Hamilton lead.
After an exchange of points, a field goal by Grant Shaw and one missed by the Ticats' Sandro DeAngelis into the wind, it was 7-3 and the Argos went on a long drive that seemed to signal Lemon's continued development as a CFL passer in his first year north of the border — until he passed one right into the hands of the Ticats' Geoff Tisdale on the goal line to kill the chance.
Another pick hurts
After a Ticats punt, Lemon again went on the attack, moving the ball down to the 10 before a too-short toss into the end zone fell into Jerome Dennis's hands and another drive was cut off.
Hamilton picked up a field goal and Lemon attacked down to the seven, where two great plays by Ticats defenders knocked passes away, and Toronto settled for three.
It was 13-6 Hamilton when, with two seconds to go in the half, Argos punter Jamie Boreham was blocked deep in his end by Markeith Knowlton, who followed the ball into the end zone and fell on it for 20-6 with the kick.
That block knocked the wind out of Knowlton.
"I just couldn't breathe," he said afterward. "My lungs were short of air."
He got to the ball anyway for the major.
With files from Canadian Press