Emotion missing this time for Ticats

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

How can a team look so good one day and so bad less than a week later?

For the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, it's the difference between playing at home on Labour Day and facing the same team on the road.

Five days after the Ticats beat the Argos 33-30 at Ivor Wynne Stadium, they looked awful yesterday, losing 48-0 at the Rogers Centre.

The Tiger-Cats went into Monday's game with a modest one-game win streak after snapping a string of eight consecutive losses since the start of the season. They had confidence but, more importantly, they had the Labour Day edge. The whole season is built around that one game. Ticats fans believe that no matter what happens in any given season, all that matters is that their team beats the Argos that one day.

When the Tabbies beat the Argos this year on Labour Day, it snapped a 15-game winless streak against Toronto dating back to 2002. That streak included a 24-6 victory in last year's Eastern semi-final, the shutout bid erased on the final play of the game.

In blanking the Tiger-Cats yesterday, this Argos team scored the first shutout for the franchise since 1979.

It didn't take long for the Argos to dissect them. Their defence stopped the Ticats on a third-and-one gamble from Hamilton's 37-yard line on the visitors' first offensive series, grabbing the quick momentum. On the first play of the Argos' offensive series, quarterback Damon Allen connected with receiver Arland Bruce on a 37-yard touchdown pass. It was a trick play -- a flea-flicker -- in which Allen handed off the ball to running back John Avery, who pitched the ball back to his quarterback, who then launched the ball to his intended target, who outjumped rookie cornerback Tad Kornegay. This was textbook offence, preceded by textbook defence.

The Tiger-Cats failed to score a first down on their next series and Argos return specialist Bashir Levingston took the Hamilton punt and rambled 30 yards. But the Argos managed only one point on their series off a missed field goal.

INTERCEPTION SCORE

On the Tiger-Cats' next series, the Argos defence scored on an interception.

Hamilton conceded two points when pinned deep in its own territory on their series, trailing 10-0 after one quarter and became a harbinger for the remaining 45 minutes.

"We got beat pretty soundly in all aspects of the game," Hamilton head coach Greg Marshall said. "I'm embarrassed. I feel bad. I'm sure our players are, too ... For a while, everything that could go wrong did go wrong."

In purely simple terms, the team with the 6-4 record beat the one with the 2-8 record. But in only five days, the Tiger-Cats had little life left over from Labour Day.

"We just did not come out and have that same emotion, that same zip," offensive lineman Dave Hack said.

Maybe this is the reason the Argos should make it paramount that every year they play Hamilton in a return match the same week as the Labour Day classic.

Not only does it help build momentum for the second half of the home-and-home series, but it gives the Argos the same edge Hamilton has playing at home on Labour Day.

"It's the emotion that is associated with playing in their own stadium and the kind of energy that is part of Labour Day," Argos head coach Pinball Clemons theorized.

In his association with the Argos since 1989, he should know a thing or two about the Labour Day factor.


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