Toronto Argonauts pull together to grind out win over Tiger-Cats

TORONTO — The Toronto Argonauts pulled together and pulled ahead as they took the lead in the season series over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night.

Led by the play of their defence, the Boatmen took a resilient 37-20 win over their provincial rival from BMO Field in Week 12. Toronto defensive back Jamal Peters recorded a jaw-dropping three interceptions in the game, including a 67-yard  interception return touchdown to help seal the game for his team.

Toronto quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson strung together a quite, yet effective performance, completing 19 of his 32 passing attempts for 258 yards and three touchdowns on Friday night.

Brandon Banks was the leading receiver for the Argos in their win over Hamilton, reeling in three passes for 67-yards. However, it was the trio of DaVaris Daniels, Markeith Ambles and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. who did the most damage. The trio of Toronto receivers combined for 128 and three touchdowns in the win over Hamilton.

» Box Score: Ticats, Argos by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Hamilton at Toronto
» Watch: Jamal Peter scores on third interception of night

Making his return to the field for the first time since Week 9, Dane Evans engineered a nine-play scoring drive with his first offensive series of the game. The drive was highlighted by back-to-back completions to Papi White for 45 yards, before coming to an end as a second down attempt from Evans fell incomplete, forcing the Ticats to attempt a field goal.

Ticat’s kicker Seth Small made good on his first attempt of the night as he split the uprights for a 33-yard field goal, giving his team an early three-point advantage.

With their offence back on the field following the Hamilton score, Bethel-Thompson and the Argonauts began to drive downfield in hopes of finding points of their own. Facing a second and long, Bethel-Thompson heaved a pass up the right sideline, but Ticats defensive back Rodney Randle Jr. read the play perfectly as he intercepted the pass, giving his team the ball back near their own 20-yard line.

The interception give’s Randle Jr. his first as a member of the Ticats, the defensive back was signed by the Ticats in the week leading up to the matchup with the Argos.

Toronto’s defence matched the play of Hamilton with a take away of their own following the interception from Bethel-Thompson. Up against a second and 10, Evans was again looking to White for the big-play down field, but Toronto defensive back Jamal Peters played the coverage perfectly as he undercut the throw from Evans for an interception.

The Argonauts offence would be held out of the end zone following the interception from Peters, but they would manage points before the end of the first quarter. Toronto kicker Boris Bede connected on a 48-yard attempt to tie the game at 3-3 to close out he first quarter of action.

The defensive battle resumed with the second quarter of action, Toronto came up with another big play that gave their offence a chance to put points on the board. The Argonauts brought pressure as Evans dropped back to pass and with the pocket collapsing the Hamilton pivot decided to use his legs.

Evans was met by Toronto defensive back Royce Metchie who stripped the ball from Evans and defensive lineman Sam Acheampong recovered fumble. The fumble marks Evans’ seventh of the season, and the sixth he has lost through the first 12 weeks.

Defensive battle continued into the second quarter as the next three consecutive drive resulted in punts.

Argos WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr #19 celebrating a touchdown Photo: The Canadian Press

Hamilton would be the first team to find the end zone as Matthew Shiltz made his way into the game at quarterback. With his first pass of the game, Shiltz found Steven Dunbar Jr. for a 23-yard completion to get the Ticats into scoring range.

With a first and goal Shiltz fired a pass to Lemar Durant who would not be denied from the end zone as he muscled his way past the Boatmen defenders, giving the Ticats their first major of the game and a 10-3 lead.

The score gives Durant his first as a member of the Ticats and his first score since the 2019 season.

As time began to wind down on the first half, the Ticats managed to find points on consecutive drives. Shiltz remained under centre following the touchdown and while he wouldn’t be able to lead his team into the end zone, he would be able to bring them into field goal range.

From 30 yards away, Small connected on his second field goal of the night to help the Ticats extend their lead to 10-points nearing the end of the second quarter.

The Argonauts looked determined to worked their way back into the game before time expired on the half. Bethel-Thompson completed a deep 38-yard pass to Banks, who looked as if he may score, but was pushed out of bounds at the 18-yard line.

Two plays later, the Argos found themselves inside the Hamilton five yard line with a chance to score. The Ticats brought heavy pressure on first down and nearly got to Bethel-Thompson for a sack, before he was able to throw the ball out of bounds.

The team’s second down attempt would prove more successful as Bethel-Thompson completed a quick pass to Gittens Jr. for the short-yardage score and his second touchdown of the season, cutting the Ticats lead to three at the end of the first half.

With one second remaining in the game’s opening half, Hamilton’s Seth Small was brought out to attempt a 58-yard field goal. The Hamilton kicker sent a booming kick through the uprights to extend his team’s lead by six as time expired on the first half.

Toronto opened the second half of action with a long field goal of their own, Bede was called upon to attempt a 56-yard field goal. The veteran kicker made the long-range attempt look effortless as he connected on the 56-yard attempt, cutting the Hamilton lead to three.

The make from Bede also notes a new career long from the the Toronto kicker, his previous long was a 54 yard make from from 2021 season.

The Tabbies opened the third quarter with Shiltz back under centre, and the first year Ticat completed three consecutive passes to put his team inside the Toronto 35-yard line. On a second and 10, Shiltz had Tim White open in the end zone, however the two were unable to connect as the pass fell harmlessly to the turf.

Hamilton was forced to settle for a field, as Small made his way onto the field for his fourth attempts of the evening. The rookie kicker knocked through a 33-yard attempt, pushing his team’s lead back to six.

The Argos were the first team to find the end zone in the second half of the game, and needed just three plays to do so following a short punt by the Ticats that left Toronto with good field position.

Inside the Hamilton 20-yard line, Bethel-Thompson fired a pass towards the end zone that found its way into the hands of Daniels, who now has touchdowns in back-to-back games against the East Division rival Ticats.

Shiltz appeared to have sustained an injury midway through the third quarter of action and he would not return, forcing Evans back into the game as Hamilton’s quarterback.

Looking for Tim White on an out route with his first pass since the game’s opening quarter, Evans was intercepted by Peters for the second time in the contest.

With their offence back on the field following the interception, Bethel-Thompson completed three consecutive passes to put his team on Hamilton’s 16-yard line. Looking to extend the lead, Bethel-Thompson connected with Markeith Ambles for his third passing touchdown of the game, helping lift Toronto to a 27-19 lead before the end of the third quarter.

Toronto kept their foot on the gas to start the final quarter of action as Peters came up with yet another big defensive play. Following a first down completion from Evan to White, Evans was looking for production from White on back-to-back plays, but Peters was waiting as he intercepted Evans for his third of the evening.

Peters has nothing but open space in front of him as he returned the interception 67-yards for an Argonaut score, extending his team’s lead to 15-points early in the fourth quarter.

The Argonauts would add on to their lead at the midway point of the game’s final quarter. Bede was again relied upon to score points with his leg, Bede knocked through an effortless looking 22-yarder to extend the Toronto lead and ultimately seal the victory.

Looking ahead to next week, the Argos and Ticats will meet in Hamilton for the Labour Day Classic and the conclusion of the four game season series. The game will kickoff at 1:00p.m. ET from Tim Horton’s Field.

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