TORONTO — Chad Kackert had three touchdowns and 239 yards from scrimmage, as the Argos put up their best offensive performance of the season en route to a 45-31 win over the Ticats on Saturday.
Ricky Ray was an efficient 26-32 for 331 yards, while Patrick Watkins picked off Henry Burris for a 27-yard interception return in a game where the Argos scored early and often in front of a pumped-up gathering at the Rogers Centre.
The Argos stormed out of the gate with some help from their defence, when Armond Armstrong charged through the line and got to Henry Burris for a sack on the first play of the game.
That gave the Boatmen good starting field position on the next drive, and Ray and company would quickly take advantage. Kackert burst through a wide open hole in the defence, going untouched for a 43-yard touchdown run to give the Argos an early 7-0 lead, getting the crowd on their side with a three-play, 63-yard drive.
The Ticats responded on the next drive, getting three points on a 48-yard field goal from Luca Congi – his longest of the season – to cut the deficit to 7-3.
But after that, it was the other Chad who would step up for the Double Blue, as Chad Owens took the ensuing kickoff straight up the gut for 66 yards.
The third-year returner was tackled down near the 40-yard-line, but even without a touchdown this season continued to show why he’s a master of all-purpose yards, setting the offence up with prime field position.
Ray would then move the offence in range to score, but Jermaine McKelveen stepped up for the Ticat defence, getting to Ray for the defence’s first sack of the game and eventually forcing Eric Wilbur to kick a 16-yard field goal.
That made it 10-3 Toronto, on Wilbur’s first three points as an Argo after being summoned to replace an injured Swayze Waters.
The Ticats would respond with an efficient drive from Burris, getting a series of completions and strong running from Avon Cobourne to move deep into the red zone.
But the Argos ‘D’, equal to the task, stepped up and forced a 15-yard field goal from Congi for his second three-pointer of the game, cutting the deficit to 10-6 to cap off an eventful first quarter.
The Argos offence started to buzz again in the second, as Ray hooked up with receiver Maurice Mann in just his second game of the season for three consecutive completions, moving the Argos into the red zone for the second time in the half.
But the Ticats defence shut the door again, knocking the ball out of the hands of Owens near the goal line to force a 25-yard field goal from Wilbur, his second of the game.
The Ticats would come roaring back though, when Burris went over the top to Chris Williams on second and twelve for a highlight-reel grab along the sidelines.
That would eventually set up another Ticats field goal, as Congi would connect from 45 yards out for his third field goal of the game to pull to within four points.
After a quick Argos two-and-out, the Ticats would get the ball back. But that’s when disaster struck, as defensive back Patrick Watkins jumped in front of a Burris throw and had nothing but open space in front of him, running into the endzone for a 27-yard interception return touchdown.
That gave the Argos a 20-9 lead, and marked the second-straight week Burris has been intercepted for a touchdown.
In the second half, the Argos came out hot, moving the ball down inside the Ticats 10-yard-line thanks to some solid rushing from Kackert and a roughing the passer call on the Ticats.
But the 96-yard, seven-play drive would be thwarted on an interception from Dee Webb, giving the Ticats the ball at the five-yard-line and a chance to shift the game’s momentum.
After a 15-yard facemask penalty moved the ‘Cats out of the shadow of their own goal post, Burris hooked up with Dave Stala for a 50-yard gain, marking the receiver’s longest catch of the season.
Down at the 35, Burris would strike quickly, hitting Samuel Giguere in stride across the goal line for the young receiver’s first career CFL touchdown. Burris would then make good on the two-point conversion, pulling the ‘Cats to within a field goal, 20-17.
The Argos came firing back again on offence though, getting into the red zone for the third straight drive on a 49-yard hookup to Ken-Yon Rambo fir his biggest catch as an Argo, setting the Argos up at the one-yard-line.
This time the Argos would make sure to come away with points though, as Jarious Jackson plunged across the goal line to cap off a 63-yard, six-play drive, restoring their 10-point lead.
In the fourth, the Boatmen created more separation, taking their biggest lead of the night on a five-play touchdown drive that was assisted by two Hamilton major fouls, and capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run from Kackert, who got around the corner with his speed and then dove for the pilon, just getting the ball over the line before being taken out of bounds.
The 25-year-old back wasn’t quite done though, once again slicing through the Ticats defence after a pass interference penalty, going 39 yards to complete the hat trick, putting the Argos ahead 42-17 with their second touchdown of the quarter.
Onrea Jones would add a 30-yard touchdown reception soon after, before Burris would hit Fantuz for a four-yard touchdown pass on the game’s 14th scoring play, but it was too little too late for the Ticats with barely over a minute remaining on the clock.
With the win, the Argos have swept the Ticats in back-to-back games, and take a one-game edge in the season series. They also move into a first place tie with the Als, who play in BC on Saturday evening.
Hamilton, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight game, and will look for an answer next weekend when the ‘Cats travel back home to take on the Eskimos.
These two teams will meet again on November 1st at the Rogers Centre, where they’ll wrap up regular season play.
Next Week for Toronto: The Argos travel to BC for a duel with former defensive back Byron Parker and a stingy Lions defence. BUY TICKETS.
Next Week for Hamilton: The Ticats return to Ivor Wynne Stadium for their first meeting of the year with JC Sherritt and the Edmonton Eskimos. BUY TICKETS.