Argos win a real classic against Ticats

Argonauts running back Chad Kackert (centre) scores a touchdown against the Tiger-Cats at Ivor...

Argonauts running back Chad Kackert (centre) scores a touchdown against the Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., Sept. 3, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:07 AM ET

HAMILTON - It would turn out to be a classic in ways that both entertained and left many enraged.

For the Argonauts, it was a classic comeback.

For the Tiger-Cats, it was a classic letdown, unable to hold a fourth-quarter lead, incapable of making a play when the game was hanging in the balance.

In the end, fittingly, it came down to the near end as Swayze Waters booted a 33-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to send the Double Blue to a thrilling 33-30 win in the final Labour Day Classic to be played at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Chad Owens was spectacular as a receiver, producing an overall performance that ranked among the very best in CFL history, while Chris Williams literally made history with his record sixth return touchdown of the season.

Quarterback Ricky Ray stood tall in the pocket, ultimately leading the Argos on their game-winning score, while Henry Burris played well in quick spurts, but clearly not good enough, especially in the fourth quarter when Toronto's defence stepped up to a different level.

Ahmad Carroll would atone for last week's rough night against Edmonton by producing a pick six yesterday that swung momentum in Toronto's favour.

As Burris' desperate heave at the very, very end hit the turf, veteran backup quarterback Jarious Jackson shared with Owens some words that may prove prescient if the Argos can build on this momentum, especially with the hard-luck Ticats visiting Toronto this Saturday.

"That's the turning point to our season,'' Owens would relay afterward, words Jackson had intoned to Toronto's scintillating slot. "This is a huge, huge turning point.

"Jarious Jackson said this will be a turning point and I believe that. Everything that could go wrong went wrong four us to lose, but we kept together and this win speaks volumes about our character."

Naturally, there are many issues that require cleaning, but a win is always a win, especially on this Labour Day stage, especially when the Scullers move to 5-4 at the midway point, while Hamilton -- losers of four in a row -- drops to 3-6.

Missed tackles, costly penalties, yielding a return touchdown, dropped balls, breakdowns in blocking schemes, there's a lot that needs to be addressed, but the Argos hung in, saving their best for the end when all three phases kicked in in the fateful fourth.

"Our best was in that fourth quarter,'' said Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich. "Offence, defence and special teams, these are the things we're building for and it's been slow at times in coming.

"You see it in glimpses, but we need ways to be consistent right out the gate."

The Ticats suddenly find themselves in a must-win scenario, desperately needing a win to keep their spirits from completely being shattered.

It's not like they're bad -- but they simply can't get over the hump.

The atmosphere was electric in Ivor Wynne Stadium, the stands were teeming with fans and the on-field product would feature big plays and the occasional blowup after the whistle was blown.

Welcome to Labour Day.

In the first half, the Argos needed all of one possession to take the lead, an opening-series drive featuring quick passes designed to move the chain and ultimately set up a deep ball.

Ray was given time and his quick reads and equally quick release made the short game almost impossible for Hamilton's revamped defence to stop.

On the game's first score, Ray located Owens, who found himself behind Hamilton's coverage on a 37-yard touchdown.

But outside of that opening series, Toronto had a tough time against a Ticat defence that began to blitz more and began to make the Argos one-dimensional at times by stopping the run and basically forcing the visitors to throw the football.

Before the game, the Argos deactivated Jason Barnes, a move many Ticats had envisioned given how little the wide receiver has been able to produce.

With word leaking that both Maurice Mann and Ken-Yon Rambo were inching closer to returning to the field, it was only logical to believe Barnes would be the odd man out.

Mind you, the way the Ticats were willing to yield the underneath pass, many of Ray's throws were to his slots with very few to his wideouts.

The Argos did suffer a blow when slotback Andre Durie was forced to leave the game with an undisclosed injury on a play that was as innocuous as an exchange between the centre and quarterback.

Without Durie, one of Toronto's big-play weapons, the Argos' offence, which is average at best, was reduced to the ranks of pedestrian.

By halftime, the Ticats were leading 16-10 in a game that was close and competitive.

It didn't get much better in the third quarter as Toronto's offence continued to misfire, settling for a single on a missed field goal.

The Ticats couldn't put the game out of reach, but Williams' sublime play on special teams did provide field position.

After three quarters, the Ticats were leading 22-11.


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