Ticats find another yet another way to lose

Argonauts wide receiver Chad Owens tries to get away from the Tiger-Cats defence at Ivor Wynne...

Argonauts wide receiver Chad Owens tries to get away from the Tiger-Cats defence at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., Sept. 3, 2012. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

HAMILTON - Four games in a row now the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been in a position to win a football game.

Four times they have found a way to leave the potential win at the table.

Head coach George Cortez is frustrated. Quarterback Henry Burris is concerned. Middle linebacker Rey Williams sees a defence that is getting better but is still coming up just short.

At 3-6 and with another date against an Argonauts team that spoiled Hamilton’s Labour Day festivities with a 33-30 win, there is plenty of concern to go around.

What’s particularly frustrating is the culprit, or reason for losing, changes by the week.

Against the Argos the blame fell primarily at the offence’s feet. Needing a strong fourth quarter, the Ticats offence under Burris got bogged down in the shadow of its own goalposts. A fumble by Burris at his own 22 was recovered by Hamilton but all the way back at their own eight-yard line. The Tiger-Cats then conceded the two-point safety and compounded the error with a short kickoff that gave Toronto possession at its own 53.

Ricky Ray took that gift and turned it into seven points capping off the drive with a one-yard Chad Kackert plunge.

The defining moment of the game came on the ensuing Hamilton series as Brandon Isaac got a hand on Burris as he threw to Chris Williams. Ahmad Carroll, the corner who was chastised for a rash of penalty yards last week against Edmonton, stepped in front of Williams and returned the interception 37 yards for a touchdown.

The major put the Argos in front from the first time since the first quarter and they made it stand up.

A week ago in Montreal the Ticats defence took a step back in the fourth quarter and gave up a lead. They weren’t helped of course when the coaching staff failed to challenge a ruled catch on the field that put the Als in scoring territory but in reality was a drop.

The week before that it was a lack of ball security that led to a loss.

It’s just been one thing after another for these Ticats.

“I’m concerned because we have now lost four games in a row and in all of them we had an opportunity to win the game,” Cortez said. “The league is very even, maybe the most even I have ever seen it in my 15 or 17 years in the league. If you don’t play at your best on any given week, you are going to have to struggle to win. That’s why it’s always just a few plays that wind up being the huge plays in the game.”

Lately all those plays seem to be going against the Ticats.

LABOUR DAY NASTINESS

Rey Williams came into the game expecting a bevy of penalties and perhaps the odd ejection of two.

Neither really developed although the special teams battles certainly made up for whatever nastiness the rest of the game lacked.

Williams said the Argos decision not to run the ball a lot and stick to short passes in the flats worked against anyone building up a particular hatred for an opposing player.

But ask long snapper Kevin Scott about the nastiness and he can tell you a tale.

On a second quarter punt, Scott got the snap off but then got steam-rolled by Toronto linebacker Ejiro Kuale. As the rest of the pack made its way downfield, Kuale refused to let Scott up off the turf, hammering away at him for what had to seem like ages.

“I could hear the ref yelling ‘Get off him, get off him.’ I never had an opportunity to get up,” he said.

Scott had no idea how many times he even got hit on the play.

“It was a blur,” he said. “I was just trying to get up. I was on my stomach the whole time. From my perspective it should have been a penalty but unfortunately I didn’t get that call.”

Kuale, once the play was finally whistled dead, stood over top of Scott and flexed his muscles before walking back to the Argos bench.

Dave Stala was doing some pretty good chirping at Swayze Waters after the latter had a punt returned for a touchdown. Waters eventually heard enough and signalled as much with a two-handed push to the chest.

Nathan Kanya got into it with Chad Owens after the latter was brought down on a kick return although these two managed to keep it mostly verbal.

It wasn’t the nastiest Labour Day clash in recent memory, but it did have its share of moments.

ARGOS INJURY CONCERNS

It was the type of injury that can deflate a team. On the fourth play of the Argos’ first series, the multi-faceted slotback Andre Durie had to be helped back to the bench. He never returned.

Durie expects to play on Saturday but his absence in the game was palpable.

Without his playmaking ability it fell to Owens to carry the load, and carry it he did. The 402 all-purpose yards were the third most in CFL history.

But getting Durie back will be key for the Argos who brought Ken-Yon Rambo and Maurice Mann into the receiving fold this week but both are a work in progress.

Mann was targeted just once in the game and was ruled out of bounds. Rambo was thrown to on four occasions and came up with two catches for 16 yards.

KUDOS TO RAY

Rey Williams believes the much maligned Ticats defence is slowly but surely crawling out of a hole. He felt the unit as a whole had two or possibly three bad drives all afternoon on Monday but said a big part of their problems were a result of Ray putting his 10 years in the league to work for him.

“The first drive was bad and that one (in the fourth) was a bad one,” Williams said. “Coach said we weren’t very aggressive but they are going to move the ball right? Ricky Ray found a hole in our defence and that’s what it took. It was a hole in the defence we were in. As a player you have to play what coach calls and that’s what we did. Other than that for the most part I thought we were aggressive.”

QUICK HITS

It probably didn’t sit well with the Argos faithful in the crowd, but the Hamilton fans on hand (a sellout of 31,032) had to enjoy Stala’s impromptu Oskie Wee Wee cheer in the north end zone after his fourth quarter two-point convert tied the game at 30.


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