Benoit Marion returned a blocked punt 24 yards for the go-ahead touchdown to rally the Toronto Argonauts to a wild 34-20 home win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night.
After Trevor Hoyte blocked Michael Domagala’s punt, Marion picked up the loose ball and ran it in 2:37 into the fourth quarter to break a 17-17 tie. Toronto appeared poised to take the lead at 1:14 but Boris Bede’s 44-yard field goal was wide, thanks to a terrible snap, with the single tying the game.
Seth Small’s 17-yard field goal at 8:53 pulled Hamilton to within 24-20. It was aided by Hamilton’s successful challenge of a 38-yard pass interference call on Toronto’s Royce Metchie on Ticats’ receiver Tim White.
However, Toronto countered with a 59-yard, eight-play march that Bede capped with an 18-yard field goal at 12:35. That delighted the BMO Field gathering of 11,623 on an evening where both Lady Gaga and Drake were also performing at Rogers Centre and Budweiser Stage, respectively.
Chris Edwards cemented the victory, returning a Dane Evans interception 40 yards for a touchdown at 13:12.
Evans was 28 of 42 passing for 302 yards with a TD and interception. Toronto starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson completed 17 of 27 attempts for 230 yards and a touchdown.
Toronto (4-3) remained atop the East Division with the win. Hamilton (2-6) is tied for second with the Montreal Alouettes (2-6). The Argos erased a 14-6 halftime deficit by outscoring the Ticats 28-6 in the second half, including 18-3 in the fourth.
It marked the seventh time in eight games this season that Hamilton had been outscored in the second half. The Ticats have especially struggled in the fourth quarter, having been outscored 95-29 in the final frame thus far.
Saturday’s game was the first of four between the long-time rivals over the next five weeks. The two teams square off again in Hamilton on Friday night before the Ticats revisit the Argos on Aug. 26.
The four-game series culminates with the annual Labour Day showdown Sept. 5 at Tim Hortons Field.
Cam Phillips scored Toronto’s other touchdown while Andrew Harris had a two-point convert. Bede kicked three field goals and a convert with the remainder of the points coming on a safety.
Don Jackson had Hamilton’s touchdown. Small booted four field goals and a convert while Domagala added a single.
Toronto pulled to within 17-16 after Domagala gave up a safety at 13:16 of the third. It came after Lawrence Woods III elected to return John Haggerty’s booming 65-yard punt at the Hamilton goal-line and was tackled after just a three-yard return.
Bethel-Thompson capped a three-play, 70-yard march with a 13-yard TD strike to Phillips at 7:45. Then he found Harris on the two-point convert to cut Hamilton’s lead to 17-14. Small’s 22-yard field goal at 6:07 gave the Ticats a 17-6 advantage.
Bede cut Hamilton’s halftime lead to 14-6 with a 30-yard field goal at 14:03 of the second. It followed Domagala’s 50-yard punt single at 12:57.
But the score flattered Toronto as Hamilton had 219 net offensive yards in the opening half, compared to just 88 for the Argos. The Ticats also had the ball for 17 minutes nine seconds.
Bede’s 44-yard field goal at 5:14 of the second cut Hamilton’s lead to 13-3 after Small connected from 28 yards out at 1:43.
Evans capped a smart 87-yard, 10-play drive with a nine-yard TD strike to Jackson at 11:43 of the first to put Hamilton ahead 10-0. It came after Small opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal at 3:56.