After a week of talk about dissention in the locker room, the Ticats put all that to rest with a 36-27 victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday night. The Ticats took the lead early and never relinquished it, but what was turning into a blowout ended up being a tight, entertaining contest.
After a slow start by both teams, the Ticats opened the scoring on a nice 34-yard touchdown pass from Henry Burris to Chris Williams to get the home side on the board. But that touchdown was only the beginning for Williams.
The Ticats’ next opportunity came from a much-needed and long-coming turnover. For the first time this season, the Ticats forced a turnover when Chad Owens was stripped on a punt return. Nathan Kanya recovered the loose ball and three plays later Burris hit Andy Fantuz for his first touchdown as a Tiger-Cat. As the first quarter came to a close, the Ticats were up 14-0.
After forcing the Argos to go two and out on their next set of downs, Chris Williams fielded the ensuing punt and took it 89 yards to the house to put the Ticats up 21-0. It was the second week in a row that Williams returned a punt for a touchdown, but he still wasn’t done.
The Argos finally got on the scoreboard with a field goal midway through the second quarter, and a punt single by the Ticats and another field goal by the Argos made it 22-6. The Argos put together a drive that was aided by some dubious officiating and capped it with their first touchdown of the game, a one-yard plunge by quarterback Jarious Jackson, to cut the Ticat lead to 22-13. On the very next play, Burris threw an interception and momentum seemed to be swinging Toronto’s way. Cue Williams.
After the Ticat defense stiffened up and forced a two and out, the Argos lined up for a 46-yard field goal and when it was missed wide, Chris Williams took it from nine yards deep in the end zone, made a few defenders miss and, before you knew it, he was in the end zone for his third touchdown of the half. The 119-yard return gave Hamilton a 16 point cushion, 29-13, heading into halftime.
The Argos came out of the locker room after halftime looking like a completely different team. They took control of the game from the Tiger-Cats, thanks mostly to running back Cory Boyd. Boyd was used often as the Argos tried to get back into the game, and finished the game with a career-high 168 yards and one touchdown. Using Boyd paid huge dividends for the Argos as they got the game within two points, 29-27, late in the fourth quarter.
Then, when the Ticats needed it the most, the offense awoke from its mid-game slumber and put together an eight-play, 77-yard drive that ended with Burris finding Bakari Grant for his first touchdown of the season. With less than three minutes remaining, the Ticats were up 36-27. A Carlos Thomas interception, his and the team’s first of the year, was the final nail in Toronto’s coffin. The Ticats ran most of the clock out and picked up their first win of the season, 36-27 over the Argos.
The star of the game was obviously Williams. He picked up three touchdowns and 266 total yards. Williams is having an amazing start to the season. He now has five total touchdowns, has had multi-touchdown games in back-to-back weeks and had over 100 yards in Week 1 against Saskatchewan. He has been Hamilton’s most consistent weapon so far in 2012.
With the Argo game now over, it is time to look ahead to next week’s clash with the Montreal Alouettes. The win over Toronto makes next week’s game at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the final trip Montreal will make to the stadium, a battle for first between the Ticats and Als.