HAMILTON – Chad Owens and Ricky Ray teamed up for a dramatic fourth quarter comeback as the Toronto Argonauts took the Labour Day Classic with a 33-30 win over Hamilton. Owens found Ray twice over the middle on Toronto’s final posession to help set up a 33-yard Swayze Waters field goal to win the game.
Monday’s matchup was the last Labour Day clash between these two teams as Ivor Wynne Stadium sets to close after this season.
Owens finished with 402 combined yards, good for the third most single-game combined yards total in CFL history behind Albert Johnson lll who set the mark in 2000 (474) and Larry Taylor who sits second after a performance earlier this year (441).
The Ticats seemed poised to put their first points on the board on the next drive after Chevon Walker’s 14-yard scamper put Hamilton in Argos’ territory but the drive came to an end when rookie Argos cornerback Patrick Watkins grabbed a tipped pass to put the Toronto offence back on the field.
The Hamilton defence would force the Argos to punt and then it was time for a sophomore Ticat to enter the record books. Chris Williams fielded a 47-yard Waters punt and returned it down the sideline 82 yards for his sixth kick return touchdown.
The score set a new league record for most single-season kick return touchdowns, previously held by former Edmonton Eskimo Henry ‘Gizmo’ Williams, and also a new mark for consecutive games with a punt return touchdown with three.
The Ticats fumbled the extra point and the Argos remained up 7-6 with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The defences would then start to tighten up, as the teams began to get after the quarterback.
The Argos would strike with 10:15 left in the first half however, as Waters made good on a 30-yard field goal set up by a 26-yard Owens punt return which put Toronto inside Hamilton territory. The Argos took a 10-6 advantage.
The Ticats answered back with a 42-yard field goal on their next possession to cut the lead to 10-9.
Henry Burris and the Tiger-Cats offence then began to click as he connected with WR Onrea Jones for a 17-yard touchdown reception with 44 seconds remaining in the half to put Hamilton in front 16-10. The drive covered 76 yards on 8 plays and was aided by a 20-yard Walker run.
The Argos had one more shot to get a score, driving down the field to set up a 42-yard Waters attempt. Former Argonauts DB Dee Webb blocked the punt though and the ‘Cats headed into halftime with a 16-10 lead.
The Ticats started the second half a lot like the Argos started the first – with a major. On Hamilton’s first play from scrimmage, Burris found Williams on a slant for a 52-yard gain, setting up a 16-yard Luca Congi field goal.
Ray and the Argos would march down the turf, covering 60 yards on 6 plays but could only muster a single point following a 38-yard missed field goal by Waters.
The Toronto special teams simply had no answer for Williams though as he took a deep punt back 63-yards before running out of gas inside the Argos 40 yard line to give Hamilton solid field position once again. Burris went two-and-out and settled for a 40-yard Congi field goal to extend his club’s lead to 22-11.
Owens racks up the yards
Chad Owens set another Argo franchise record by generating a total of 402 all-purpose yards, one yard more than the previous record-holder Rocket Ismail who had 401 in a game in 1992. Owens finished with 176 receiving, 136 kick return and 90 punt return. He also added a touchdown.
More unsettling for the Double Blue was the fact that one of their leading pass-catchers, Andre Durie, left the game with an injury in the first half and didn’t return.
The Ticats looked to take some time off the clock as the fourth quarter began, but fumbled inside thier own five yard line and recovered, setting up a conceded safety and making the score 22-13 Hamilton.
It seemed to spark some momentum for the Argonauts as Ray led a 6-play, 57-yard drive finished off by a 1-yard Chad Kackert touchdown plunge to pull Toronto within one point.
The Argos would extend their margin to 30-22 on their next possession when a key catch by Canadian Mike Bradwell helped set up a 26-yard Waters field goal.
Burris would shake off his earlier misfire and lead an impressive 75-yard drive, finding newcomer RB Brandon Rutley for a 10-yard major and then Dave Stala in the back of the endzone for the two-point conversion to notch the game up at 30.
The Argos would have the final say however, as Ray led a 51-yard, 7-play drive, killing the clock and setting up a 33-yard Waters field goal with 26 seconds left to seal a 33-30 win.
Next Week: The two teams complete a back-to-back when Hamilton goes down the QEW to meet the Argos at Rogers Centre. BUY TICKETS.