September 4, 2023

O’Leary: Ouellette lays down the hammer in LD win

Thomas Skrlj/

HAMILTON — The pieces came together for AJ Ouellette over the span of a week or so.

First, the Toronto Argonauts’ running back was visiting with his family, when his nephew wanted to get him an action figurine to put in his locker. When it wasn’t there, the next best item came up.

“Before our last game, my family came up. We went to Toys R Us and he wanted the Thor figurine to put in my locker and they didn’t have one. He said, ‘Can I get you the Thor hammer?'” Ouellette recalled.

“I’m not going to say no,” he said, laughing.

So the primary ground weapon for the defending Grey Cup champions had his Thor hammer. Then, this past week, Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie put the next piece in front of Ouellete. He designed a trick play where the former high school quarterback could throw a pass ahead of the OK Tire Labour Day Weekend game in Hamilton.

Ouellette connected with Dejon Brissette on a 26-yard touchdown pass at 11:24 of the fourth quarter on holiday Monday as part of the Argos’ 41-28 win over the Ticats at Tim Hortons Field. The play put the game out of reach and given the timing and the rivalry, it felt like a dump truck of salt backed up over the team in the grey unis and heaped its contents on an open wound. It cleared out the sell out crowd of 25,381, giving disappointed fans reason to try to beat traffic and get home.

OK Tire Labour Day Weekend
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» Argos make a statement on Labour Day against Ticats
» Argos take it ‘one play at a time’ in win over Ticats
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“It was a good throw,” Dinwiddie said of Ouellete’s work. “I didn’t know AJ could throw, so when we put (the play) in everybody was telling me AJ could throw. So we go practice it he threw it and I thought, oh, OK. And Andrew it was was up for it as well. But I think Aj is more fluid and has got a stronger arm.”

With the touchdown scored, the game out of reach and the hammer in, well, The Hammer, Ouellete felt it was safe to pour the celebration on.

His teammates told him that if he scored, they’d bring the hammer to him, but Ouellette needed the situation to be perfect.

“I’m like, ‘I’m not doing that celebration if it’s a close game and I’m not doing celebration in the first, second, third quarter, whatever,'” Ouellette said. “We were up. I saw John (Haggerty) holding it, throwing it on the field and I said, ‘all right it’s hammer time. Let’s go.'”

When he wasn’t throwing touchdown passes, Ouellette finished the night with 12 carries for 79 yards. The Argos’ offence burst out of the gate with a 17-point first quarter on Monday, then re-discovered itself in the third, with Ouellette featuring prominently in the team’s third touchdown of the day. The Argos sit at an impressive 9-1 and locked up the season series with the Ticats as they picked up their third win against them — and their second at Tim Hortons Field — this season.

“Fantastic,” Argos’ QB Chad Kelly said of Ouellette’s pass. “I’m glad he trusted himself and got it out there. That was a great catch by Brissett too.”

There was talk in the Argos’ locker room of the prop use possibly coming with a fine. If that’s the case, Kelly said he’d have his on-the-spot quarterback’s back.

“I’m going to have to pay that fine,” Kelly said. “In the midst of the game it happens.”

From their Labour Day win, the Argos head into a home-and-home series with the Montreal Alouettes, starting on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at BMO Field. The Argos have a six-point lead on the Als in the standings and the Als will be determined to chip into that lead.

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