Kyle Myers | Ticats.ca Staff
GUELPH -- There was a different quarterback under centre for the Argonauts on Monday afternoon, but the final result was one which will have Toronto fans feeling déjà vu.
Despite the return of veteran pivot and future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray to the Argonauts lineup, the Tiger-Cats won their second in a row against their bitter rivals, taking the season series two games to one with a 24–18 victory Monday in Guelph.
Any edge to be gained by adding Ray was nullified by a strong defensive effort by the Ticats, holding a potent Argonauts offence under 20 points for the second game in a row. Hamilton’s defence continued what they started last weekend at the Rogers Centre, bringing down Ray three times for a total of eight sacks in the two game series.
“Our guys are giving really great effort,” said Head Coach Kent Austin after the game. “We’re getting more pressure on the quarterback, we’re covering better… our tackling has gotten better, and we’re making plays.”
One of those plays – and it was a big one – was Arthur Hobbs’ interception on third down with just 1:19 left to play in the fourth quarter. It was the first interception thrown by Ray in 2013, and it served as the final dagger in the Ticats second straight victory.
“It’s a team interception. The D-Line was getting a great pass-rush all game,” said Hobbs. “It’s a team win, a team effort. It’s up to me to make the play, but the defensive line was getting after Ricky all game long.”
Offensively, Ticats pivot Henry Burris eclipsed 300 passing yards for the ninth time this year, and he believes that efforts like the one the Ticats put forth on Monday is a statement to the league that Hamilton is for real.
“To see our defence go out there and put the game away, make a huge stop when the pressure was on, that gives our team a lot of confidence,” said Burris. “It shows that we’re becoming that team that, regardless of who’s out there, we’re able to get the job done when the pressure’s on.”
Rookie receiver Luke Tasker – playing in just his third CFL game – recorded the first 100-yard game of his young career, and was quick to pass much of the credit to the man he’s replaced in the lineup: fellow rookie Greg Ellingson.
“A lot of it is because of Greg,” he said. “He’s sitting beside me in meetings, when I come onto the sidelines I’m getting the words of wisdom from him.”
Tasker, who played under Offensive Coordinator Condell and Austin at Cornell, praised the way his new teammates were able to dig in when it counted most, and close out a win against a very good Toronto team.
“I’ve been on teams in College… where when games get close like that, you lose those games,” he said. “This team, the maturity, the leadership, that last stop by the defence… that’s just guys who care enough to really do their job and make those big-time plays when it counts.”
Austin echoed the young receiver’s sentiment.
“Guys are accepting their role and accepting the challenge in front of them,” said Austin. “Doing whatever they need to do from an unselfish standpoint in the role they’ve been given to help the team win.”
The Tiger-Cats will enjoy their second straight victory, an emotional win over their bitter rivals, but not for long. Burris and his teammates know that the 2013 season is far from over, and another back-to-back – this time against the Montreal Alouettes – looms large on the horizon.
“We’re going to enjoy this game for a couple of days, but we need to be ready to go when we head into Montreal this coming week,” said Burris. “We know those guys are going to be ready to play, and it’s going to be another dogfight like it was tonight.”