Ticats' trick stops Stamps

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

HAMILTON -- The former chumps got the best of the defending champs last night.

Ex-Argonaut Arland Bruce had two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats took another large step in leaving their sickly past behind, beating the Calgary Stampeders, winners of the 2008 Grey Cup, 24-17 at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

"I just want to contribute, go out with a bang and get to the playoffs," Bruce said. "I thought it would be like this here or even a little more. Thank you Toronto and thank you Hamilton."

In each of the six games he has started since he was traded to Steeltown by the Argos in July, Bruce has led Hamilton in receiving yards, and piled up 105 on six catches versus the Stamps.

But for the Ticats, playing in windy and cool conditions before a crowd of 19,448, Bruce was just one piece of their fifth consecutive home win.

BURRIS CONTAINED

The defence was excellent, holding the highest-scoring offence in the league in check and limiting quarterback Henry Burris to only 114 yards passing, his lowest output of the season.

Next up for the Ticats is a game next Friday at home against East Division-leading Montreal.

Calgary (6-5) had won three in a row.

"This isn't something I expected," Burris said. "I really can't put it into words. We didn't hold up our end of the bargain."

The Ticats have been making an impressive climb to respectability during the 2009 season and have won six games for the first time since 2004, when they were 9-8-1. In the past two seasons combined, Hamilton (6-5) won six games.

The winning touchdown came on a play that surprised many. Ticats third-string quarterback Adam Tafralis, who usually comes in for short-yardage plays, entered the game with his team needing one yard on second down. Instead of plunging forward, Tafralis dropped back and threw a 36-yard strike to Bruce on a play called by offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson.

Earlier, Quinton Porter, in his first start in four games after recovering from a knee injury, had found Bruce with a 17-yard touchdown pass.

Bruce represents something the Argos have missed since they traded him after he had a public fallout with head coach Bart Andrus. "We knew we (were getting) a playmaker," Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said of Bruce.

"What you don't really know is how good he is on the deep ball. I won't say I am surprised, but that is the part I am very pleased with. He has given us that deep threat."

The Ticats were resilient, shrugging off a pair of Calgary touchdowns in the first quarter that were the result of turnovers. Teams that have a good sense of themselves don't fall apart in the face of adversity, and the Hamilton players got through it.

"We're growing as a team," linebacker Jamall Johnson said. "Guys strapped it up. Everyone trusted the guy next to him. It was good to get a win against a team like that."

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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