The Ticats took an important leap in the process of working towards evolving into a legitimate Grey Cup contender in their Week 15 win over the rival Argonauts.
Hamilton put the hammer down on a 33-19 victory by putting forth an outstanding fourth quarter display of football.
After pouncing on the Argos in the opening half to take a 22-6 lead into the break, the Ticats could stand and watch as Toronto went on a 13-1 scoring run to close the deficit to four with just under 11 minutes to go.
However, thanks to just one play, the Ticats were able to stop the bleeding and redicover their form.
Facing a 2nd and 13 situation, with the ball on the Argos 52-yard line and less than eight minutes left on the clock, Hamilton lined up with three receivers strong, two weak and qith running back CJ Gable standing to the right of Henry Burris in the shotgun.
Toronto sent just a three-man rush at Burris, which was easily picked up by five Ticat offensive linemen. The 38-year-old pivot took a five-step drop and let go a beautiful touch pass, over a couple of Argo defenders, to Bakari Grant which hit him right in the chest for a 37-yard pickup. Grant’s catch for a first down came at a crucial time in the contest.
If the Ticats failed to gain the yardage needed to move the sticks, they would’ve punted the ball back to the Argonauts offence that had found smooth sailing in the second half. Instead, Grant found the soft spot in Toronto’s zone defence and Burris found him for a big gain to set the Tiger-Cats up in the red zone. On the very next play Burris and Grant showed once again just how far their rapport has come.
From the 15-yard line, four Double Blue jerseys came after Burris. Toronto defensive end Ivan Brown did a great job of getting over a cut block from Ticats running back, Dahrran Diedrick. Brown’s pressure forced Burris to escape the pocket to the right.
The original offensive play called for Grant to run a deep in route, which he executed, but when the pressure from Brown disrupted the timing of the pass pattern, Grant had to redirect. Grant saw Burris rolling to the right and made a savvy veteran move. He planted and broke back to the right sideline, leaving his man-to-man defender, former Ticat Ricardo Colclough, in the dust.
On the dead run, Burris found Grant, running the old in, up, and out route, for a 15-yard touchdown to put the Ticats up 30-19. Two clutch connections from Burris and Grant – eye of the tiger stuff from the Ticats.
On the Argos ensuing possession, Hamilton’s defence found its tiger look, too. The Black and Gold defenders forced a two and out, keyed by Eric Norwood stuffing Zach Collaros on a 2nd and 2 designed quarterback run, which help return the ball back to the Ticats offence.
Burris and his unit got the ball back with 5:10 left. Hamilton went to work putting together an 11-play drive, which chewed 3:54 off the clock, resulting in a Brett Lauther field goal to give the Ticats a 14-point advantage. Grant’s major and Lauther’s kick gave Hamilton 10 straight points to end the game and helped close out the defending champs on their home turf.
It was a pivotal win in more ways than one for the Ticats. Not only did it keep their chance at an East Divison regular season title alive, but it gave them a surge of confidence they'll need down the stretch.
Make no mistake the win over Toronto was a confidence builder. Especially when you zoom in on their performance as time was winding down in the fourth. Hamilton showed a fierce tiger’s eye to finish off an elite team, a feat that must turn into a regular, and expected, occurrence if the Tiger-Cats want to hunt down a Grey Cup.