American Football International

Hamilton Tiger-Cats earn big win over Toronto Argonauts

TORONTO — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats put on an offensive showcase in their 34-20 road victory against the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night, with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli throwing for 338 yards and four touchdowns. The Tabbies are now tied atop the CFL East with the Ottawa REDBLACKS after claiming their eighth win of the season.

What started as a back-and-forth game quickly turned into an offensive onslaught, with Hamilton pulling away and scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Luke Tasker had a big game for Hamilton with four catches for 63 yards and an impressive three touchdowns, while Brandon Banks made big plays all night long with eight catches for 178 yards and a touchdown.

S.J. Green led the Double Blue with seven catches for 127 yards and a touchdown, and running back Brandon Burks made an impact out of the backfield for the Argos with 94 total yards and a 27-yard receiving touchdown for his first CFL score.

James Franklin started the game looking sharp for Toronto and finished with 292 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but the Ticats’ defence stepped up with a fumble recovery and an interception in the second half.

Photo: Adam Gagnon CFL.ca

The Ticats struck first on the opening drive of the game after Masoli put his team in field goal range with an accurate 23-yard pass to Banks near the right sideline. Lirim Hajrullahu made the kick from 45 yards out to give Hamilton the early lead.

The Argos answered back right away with a field goal that was set up by catches from Duron Carter and Llevi Noel. Rookie kicker Drew Brown knocked the 44-yard kick through the uprights to tie the game with his first career CFL field goal.

Masoli continued to look sharp on the next drive, finding Banks once again for a 36-yard connection. Banks displayed his game-changing speed and turned it up the field to gain 23 yards after the catch before being forced out of bounds. Masoli nearly got into the end zone himself two plays later on a 12-yard rush before being tackled by defensive back Matt Webster, and the quarterback completed a nice touch pass to Tasker for a four-yard touchdown to finish the drive off. Hajrullahu kicked the extra point through to give Hamilton a 10-3 lead.

The game’s back-and-forth start continued as soon as the Argos got the ball back, with Burks showcasing his ability to make big plays. Franklin started the drive off by finding Green through the air for 16 yards, and Burks took over from there by turning two short receptions into a 27-yard gain and a 17-yard touchdown. Brown made his first-career extra point to tie the game early on at 10 apiece.

Banks put the Ticats back on top with a 17-yard touchdown catch after a tough defensive pass interference penalty against Toronto put the team in scoring position. Defensive back Ronnie Yell was called for the penalty while covering Banks on a missed pass attempt deep down the field, and Argos head coach Marc Trestman unsuccessfully challenged the call. Hajrullahu kicked the convert to give the Ticats a 17-10 lead in the second quarter.

The Ticats added a point to their lead before the half after a big 63-yard punt from Hajrullahu ended up in the Argos’ end zone for the single.

The Double Blue appeared to be driving to tie the game at the start of the third quarter, but Ticats defensive back Delvin Breaux made a brilliant play to strip the ball from Franklin as the quarterback picked yards up with his legs. Breaux scooped up his own fumble and returned it 21 yards to set up Masoli and the offence. But the Argos came up with a turnover of their own when Masoli’s pass into tight coverage ended up being tipped into the waiting hands of Yell for the interception.

Hamilton’s defence stood strong to force the punt, and the Tabbies began to move the ball once again on offence. Masoli threw a strike to Josh Johnson for 18 yards before hitting Banks for a short gain that set up Tasker’s second touchdown of the night. Masoli stood tall against the Argos’ pass rush to find Tasker in the end zone for the five-yard score, and Hajrullahu added the extra point to extend Hamilton’s lead to 15 points.

Tasker wasn’t done there, as the receiver made an impact on the Ticats next drive with a 48-yard touchdown deep down the right side of the field. Masoli dropped the ball in perfectly as Tasker outran the Argos defender to the goal line. The extra point went wide, leaving Hamilton with a 31-10 lead near the end of the third quarter.

The Argos added a 21-yard field goal from Brown after Green brought the team into kicking range on a 43-yard catch and run, with 37 yards coming after the catch.

Hamilton came up with another second half turnover when defensive back Cariel Brooks picked off Franklin as the quarterback attempted to lead his team from behind. Masoli then found Banks for a 39-yard gain that set up Hajrullahu for a 27-yard field goal to extend the team’s lead once again.

Masoli attempted to add to the Ticats’ lead by going deep once more, but the pass was caught by Toronto defensive back Marcus Roberson for his first career CFL interception.

Green added a 10-yard touchdown in the game’s final minute, but it was too little too late as the Ticats walked away with the 34-20 victory.

Week 19 will see the Hamilton Tiger-Cats travel to take on the Ottawa REDBLACKS in a crucial divisional matchup next Friday, while the Toronto Argonauts will host the Montreal Alouettes next Saturday.