Ticats take bite out of Argos

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Holy mackinaw!

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats pulled off a shocker in the annual Labour Day Classic at Ivor Wynne Stadium yesterday, beating the Argos in front of a sold-out crowd of 29,600.

The Argos came into the game leading the East Division with a 6-3 record, while Hamilton had the worst record in the league at 1-8.

Little has changed in the standings, only the records of the two teams.

But the Tiger-Cats are on a roll with two consecutive wins and they will be full of confidence heading into the rematch between the two teams at the Rogers Centre on Saturday.

"I don't believe they should be even close to us," Argos linebacker Kevin Eiben said. "The thing is, when it comes to the Labour Day Classic they always come out a different team. They're not the same team. They come out and realize it's an important rivalry and they play their hearts out. Hats off to them, they played really well."

It was such a demoralizing loss that Argos quarterback Damon Allen, who surpassed the 67,000-yard mark in career passing, did not want to comment after the game.

"I'm not talking about this game," he said. "I'm upset."

Allen completed 18 of 34 passes and tossed two touchdowns, but he also served up two interceptions and had three fumbles.

The Tiger-Cats capitalized on both interceptions for touchdowns. Rush end James Cotton scored on the second pick, rambling 15 yards for the score with 7:31 to go to give the Tiger-Cats a 30-23 lead.

The play was a designed screen pass to running back John Avery, but Cotton read it perfectly and stepped in front for the interception and the easy score.

'GREAT PLAY'

"The guy made a great play, that's it," Avery said.

"I was lined up right with Damon and the guy broke on the ball perfect and made a great play."

The Argos rebounded on the ensuing series and scored a touchdown on a 27-yard pass from Allen to receiver Tony Miles.

Hamilton moved ahead on a 43-yard field goal by Jamie Boreham with 1:59 to go, but the Argos appeared to be moving into a position of either winning the game or, at the very least, tying it on their series. They advanced the ball to the Tiger-Cats' 46-yard line, but gave up valuable field position when Allen had the ball jarred loose on the next play. The Argos recovered at their own 40-yard line, but needed 34 yards for a first down and failed to get it when two consecutive Allen passes went incomplete.

"We didn't make the last play, they made the last play, and the last big play was the play that went backwards after we had the first down," Argos head coach Pinball Clemons said. "It was a tough, hard-fought game and as I said (the day before the game) the team we were playing was better than their record and not only that, it's Labour Day."

After the game, things turned nasty as a pair of Argos -- receiver Robert Baker and kick returner Bashir Levingston -- were involved in separate incidents with unruly fans.


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