Boatmen blow 'em away

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

The previous time the Argos recorded a shutout, the Rogers Centre was 10 years away from opening its doors and coach Pinball Clemons was 10 years away from making his CFL playing debut.

With those facts in mind, it's hard to imagine a more gratifying form of revenge for the Argos than holding the Hamilton Tiger-Cats off the scoreboard -- 48-0, before a season-high crowd of 32,274 yesterday at the Rogers Centre.

On the heels of a surprising 33-30 Labour Day loss in Hamilton, it was the first shutout for the East-leading Argos (7-4) since a 25-0 win over the Calgary Stampeders on Aug. 8, 1979.

"It sends a message to us that it's possible," Argos linebacker Michael Fletcher said after his team forced five turnovers, including three interceptions. "This is the hardest league to ever get a shutout in ... That really is something you cherish, especially against a cross-town rival."

For Argos defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler, it was the first shutout in his 19 years in the CFL. The basement-dwelling Ticats (2-9) crossed midfield just once in the game and didn't do that until the third quarter.

The Argos narrowly missed a shutout against the Ticats in the East semi-final last year as Hamilton scored a touchdown on the final play of a 24-6 Toronto win.

"It's Rich Stubler's first shutout and we're really happy for him," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said. "Certainly, we don't want to celebrate in anyone's face. But we're really happy. When you get a shutout, that's a major, major achievement. We're really happy for Rich. He's my right-hand man and he's such a valuable part of what we do."

The Argos defence set the tone on the first series, stuffing Ticats backup quarterback Khari Jones on a third-and-one gamble.

Then, on the Argos' first offensive play, they went with a flea flicker. Running back John Avery flipped the ball back to quarterback Damon Allen, who fired a 37-yard touchdown strike to Arland Bruce III. The rout was on.

"This season, we've been starting slow," Fletcher said. "We had to jump out early. It didn't look like they even woke up before we scored our first three touchdowns. They were just dazed, they didn't know what happened. It was like the game hadn't started for them yet."

Allen, who was critical of himself after the Labour Day loss, bounced back with a solid performance, throwing for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He missed two series to receive some stitches near his mouth after he was hit hard in the second quarter.

"(The Labour Day loss) really made us look at ourselves as a team and where we needed to get to and how we needed to get better on both sides of the ball," Allen said.

"It showed. We came out ready to play. We played with a lot more energy than we did on Labour Day."

Bruce added a second TD on a throw from Michael Bishop while Avery, Adrion Smith, on a 79-yard interception return, and Sean Millington, with his first TD as an Argo, also scored majors.

The Argos return to action Sept. 23 in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.


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