Hamilton Tiger-Cats top Toronto Argonauts for first win of the season

Following a two-hour lightning delay, with a new coach and a backup quarterback at the helm, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats eventually snapped an eight-game losing skid and earned his first win of the year in a wild game which ended late Monday night.

At a storm-interrupted Labour Day Classic that took five hours from start to finish, the Tiger-Cats beat the Toronto Argonauts 24-22 after a crazy back-and-forth fourth-quarter.

Ticats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli completed 19 of his 33 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown and one interception in his first start of the year, as the Ticats improved to 1-8, while the Argos fell to 4-7.

Ricky Ray has been 34-of 47 for 325 yards and two touchdowns and one pick in Toronto’s loss.

The day started with all the trimmings of a Labour Day Classic, such as parking lots near Tim Horton’s Field buzzing with tailgaters, Ticats fans hollering “Argos suck,” along with a live band belting out music by a pop up stage on a hot and sunny day. But ominous weather reports warned of approaching thunderstorms while brisk winds swirled. The game, however, well before the storm could arrive, had something Labour Day Classics rarely have in Hamilton: pockets of empty seats (in spite of the fact that the attendance was announced at 23,926, a sellout).

It marked June Jones’ first game as Hamilton’s head coach after what was a tumultuous 10 days for the club. Vice President of Football Operations Kent Austin replaced himself as head coach with Jones, and the group hired Art Briles as assistant coach, who last year was fired as head coach of Team at the fallout of a sexual assault scandal in his program. The hiring was met with such widespread scorn the team , eventually convinced by CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie to cut ties with Briles.

Whether a few enthusiasts were irked by their group’s questionable integrity, the unconventional 6:30 pm E.T time on Labour Day, the poor weather prediction or Hamilton’s 0-8 beginning, there were lots of empty chairs.

Masoli made his first start Hamilton’s season, relegating Zach Collaros into the backup role for the first time since he arrived in Hamilton in 2014. Collaros had lost 12 straight games as a starter.

Masoli threw an interception on Hamilton’s first offensive series, a pass intended for Brandon Banks tossed into the hands of Toronto linebacker Marcus Ball. The Argos were not able to turn that favourable field position to a touchdown, but they did get a field goal out of it.

Minutes later, Ray threw a pick, nabbed by Hamilton linebacker Richard Leonard. The punchless Ticats wasted the opportunity. In the ensuing series, Banks failed to haul in a nice chunk from Masoli — colors of the late-game grab the receiver bobbled in the Ticats’ recent loss to Ottawa.

The upcoming points were not placed on the board until early in the second quarter, when Lirim Hajrullahu made his second field goal of the night for Hamilton.

With eight minutes left in the second quarter and the Argos up 6-0, a huge crack of lightning sent the match into a delay and fans have been asked to leave their seats for the concourses. The heavens then opened up with torrential rains followed by more thunder and lightning.

Fans in thin yellow rain ponchos packed into concourses. Many simply gave up and fled to their cars. About 9:00 E.T., CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie showed up in the press box with armloads of pizza slices and hand-delivered them {}.

After a delay of 2 hours and eight minutes, the match resumed in the next quarter, played an even thinner audience. A broad Toronto field goal attempt that led to conceded single point was the most fascinating thing fans saw in the opening couple of minutes.

Hamilton eventually got on the board just before the quarter ended, with a season-high 57-yard field goal by Sergio Castillo. The teams took only a two-minute half-time break, and then came a significant turn of events.

2 Tiger-Cats touchdowns came in a period of 25 seconds. Masoli and Banks attached on 64-yard touchdown pass. Then on the ensuing kickoff return, Toronto’s Martese Jackson fumbled the ball, and Hamilton’ Felix Faubert-Lussier recovered it and delivered 14 yards for a touchdown, giving the Ticats a surprising 17-7 lead.

The Argos countered with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ray to DeVier Posey. The duo did it again a couple of minutes later, this time for 16 yards, seizing the lead back for Toronto.

Then the tide turned again. Toronto’s Rico Murray was called for pass interference on Hamilton’s Luke Tasker — a penalty that put the Ticats directly on the target line. C.J Gable ran it in to provide the Tabbies the lead yet again.

Hajrullahu’s field goal attempt with 45 seconds left was broad, giving Toronto only a single point rather than tying the game. Hamilton should have been able to run the clock out from there, but it was stopped because of an objectionable. Toronto ended up with the opportunity to throw a Hail Mary from way deep, which they gave to backup Cody Fajardo, but it fell short.

The Argos have not conquer the Ticats in the Labour Day Classic because 2012.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail