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Fourth quarter burst sends Argos over Hamilton

Oct 11, 2014 - 3:12 AM Toronto, ON ( - Toronto scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Argonauts completed their biggest comeback of the season with a thrilling 34-33 triumph over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as Thanksgiving Weekend kicked off at Rogers Centre.

The Argos (6-8), winners of three in a row for the first time this season, trailed by double figures for much of the night before outscoring the visitors, 21-3, in the final frame. Quarterback Ricky Ray converted 34-of-46 for 431 yards and logged three touchdowns through the air, as well as a short major on the ground.

Chad Owens, who was averaging more than 100 yards receiving heading into the meeting, caught six balls for 109 yards, including the game-winner which measured 69 yards in the final minutes.

Zach Collaros played a spirited game for the Tiger-Cats (6-8), throwing for 302 yards, converting 23-of-32, and two TDs of his own, not to mention a rushing TD in the second period, but the team still saw its four-game win streak come to an end. Despite the loss, Hamilton is still tied for the lead in the East Division standings with the Argos.

"The fourth quarter we didn't play well," Hamilton coach Kent Austin commented. "Defensively there was a lot of penalties, you have to give them (Toronto) credit. Listen, we had a 30-17 lead and we should have been able to close that out."

The 'Cats entered the meeting with the best run defense in the league, allowing just 78.9 ypg, and held Toronto to a mere 45 yards on the ground.

The contest was plagued with penalties on both sides as the Argos dealt with 21 flags for 178 yards and Hamilton 19 infractions for another 153 yards of lost field position.

Hamilton opened the meeting with 13 unanswered points, beginning with a three- yard TD strike from Collaros to Andy Fantuz in the first quarter, followed by a 42-yard Justin Medlock field goal. In the second frame Medlock came on again after a stalled drive by the Tiger-Cats, adding a 20-yard field goal.

The Argos finally responded late in the first half as Ray combined with Spencer Watt on a two-yard major through the air, capping an 11-play, 75-yard drive that consumed more than five minutes on the clock.

Two minutes later Collaros moved the ball 67 yards on seven plays, finishing off the drive with a 28-yard TD run during which he sprinted to the end zone untouched.

With time remaining in the half, Ray brought Toronto right back down the field, but the hosts had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Swayze Waters on the final play of the second quarter, making the score 20-10 heading into the break.

The teams traded turnovers in the opening moments of the second half, but it was only Hamilton which managed to capitalize as Medlock converted a 38-yard field goal, extending the 'Cats advantage to 23-10.

Waters countered for the Argonauts later in the frame with a 39-yard field goal of his own after yet another Toronto drive came to an end.

On the subsequent possession for Hamilton, Collaros went on the attack and, aided by yet another penalty, the signal caller found Luke Tasker with a 22- yard delivery at the goal line. With the successful PAT, the lead for the visitors swelled to 17 points with just over three minutes remaining before the start of the fourth quarter.

The Tiger-Cats tried to get tricky the next time they had the ball, but a reverse turned into a fumble in their own end of the field. Once more, aided by penalties, Toronto closed the gap as Ray found Steve Slaton out on the right side and the running back did the rest as he slipped into the end zone from six yards out.

A 32-yard Medlock field goal with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation again moved the advantage to 13 for the 'Cats.

With 2:07 to play, Ray took it upon himself to draw Toronto to within six at 33-27, as the quarterback slipped over the goal line from one yard out, marking the first TD tallied by a Toronto signal caller this season.

After forcing Hamilton to punt, the Argos went on the offensive. Ray hit John Chiles for 11 yards to the Toronto 41-yard line and then found a streaking Owens along the left side and the sprite receiver did the rest as he cruised into the end zone from 69 yards out. With the PAT, the Argos took their first lead of the night, 34-33, with 1:14 to play.

"They had me double covered on the night ... I knew that if they were playing us man-to-man we had a chance to win," Owens said. "On that play (the touchdown) they went to man-to-man, I was able to get a seam and Ricky put a perfect ball out there to me."

On the ensuing kickoff Hamilton's Terrell Sinkfield, who earlier in the night was flagged for his showboating during a previous return, brought the ball back close to midfield, but on the first play from scrimmage the Argos managed to log their first sack of the night. With an incomplete pass on the next play, Collaros was under the gun and ended up failing to field the next snap cleanly, resulting in the ball going back to the hosts at the 18-yard line.

With 38 seconds remaining, Toronto took over inside the red zone and was able to run out the clock, as Ray hurled the ball high into the air and through the end zone on the final play of the night.

Even with the setback, Hamilton still owns a 126-92-2 advantage in the all- time, regular-season series against Toronto, dating back to 1950.