GUELPH -- CJ Gable racked up 164 total yards and a touchdown, while Henry Burris threw for 350 yards, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats downed the Toronto Argonauts 24-18 on Thanksgiving Monday.
With the win, the Ticats earned the season-series victory, and will hold onto the coveted Ballard Trophy for the year as their reward.
Last week, the Ticats took the first of the home-and-home set with a 33-19 win over Zach Collaros and the Boatmen.
This week however, the Argos were getting back their meal-ticket in Ricky Ray who missed six weeks with an injured shoulder. His return under centre was met with some losses in other positions though.
|Related: Ticats vs. Argos|
» View Game Stats
» Images: TOR vs. HAM
» Preview: Final Battle of Ontario of 2013
Ray was without the services of running back Chad Kackert and wide receiver John Chiles while defensively, the Argos were missing cornerback Patrick Watkins, safety Matt Black and linebacker Demetrice Morley.
Missing a number of key parts on defence, it was a newcomer that came up with first big play of the game. Defensive back Neiko Thorpe, in his first stop, pounced on a Tiger-Cats fumble to help set up a field goal attempt. The turnover was caused by a mixed up exchange between Henry Burris and RB CJ Gable.
The Argos moved the ball on the strength of a 25-yard Dontrelle Inman reception but could only muster a Rouge after Swayze Waters pulled a 35-yard attempt wide left.
The Ticats earned a safety off a strange play on their ensuing drive when Luke Tasker fumbled the ball and it was inadvertently kicked through the Toronto end-zone.
As a result, the ‘Cats got the two points as well as the short kickoff, and worked their way back into scoring territory. Burris found Dobson Collins for 27 yards before QB Dan LeFevour punched it in from one yard out to take an early 9-1 lead.
The Argos took over and seemed poised to put a score on the board when Ray found a wide-open Jason Barnes down the seam for 43 yards but he had the ball punched out by DB Emmanuel Davis and the Ticats took over.
They struck again quickly when Burris found Brandon Banks in the flat who raced for 44 yards before being forced out at the Argonauts 10 yard line. LeFevour snuck in his second of the game two plays later and the Ticats went up 16-1 midway through the second quarter.
The Argos had been known as a team poised for second half comebacks but if they were going to have any chance of doing so in this game they would need to start earlier than that.
With 1:33 left in the first half, Burris had a pass tipped by LB James Yurichuk and into the waiting arms of Ricardo Colclough who took it into Tiger-Cats territory.
Ray then promptly found Spencer Watt with a 17-yard touchdown pass but it was called off due to a holding penalty on left guard Joe Eppele. Two plays later though, the two would connect again, this time from 32 yards out to cut the lead to 16-8. It was Ray’s 16th touchdown pass of the season and first since returning. It was Watt’s third of the year.
The Tiger-Cats answered right back as the second half began. After getting a solid return to start the half, Burris led an impressive 7-play, 64-yard touchdown drive finished off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Gable to increase the lead to 23-8.
A missed field goal by Lauther and a successeful attempt by Waters prior to the end of the third quarter gave the Ticats a 24-11 lead entering the final frame of the night.
Five minutes into the fourth, Ray and the Argos offence would cut further into Hamilton's lead. On a drive that spanned 92 yards over 12 plays, Ray completed five of his six passes, the last of which found the hands of Jason Barnes for a 12-yard touchdown.
The score was Barnes' seventh of the season and first since Aug. 23, the game Ray suffered his shoulder injury against Calgary.
With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Argos embarked on one final drive, looking for a late score that would perhaps serve as the game-winner.
But on third down, Ray saw his pass intended for Watt intercepted by Arthur Hobbs in the endzone. The pick was Hobbs' first of his career, and was also the first pick thrown by Ray in 2013.
Next week, the Tiger-Cats head to Montreal for a crucial battle with the Alouettes, while the Argonauts travel to Winnipeg to take on the Bombers.