HAMILTON -- Damon Allen broke a major record last night and, in the process, broke the Labour Day Classic wide open for the Argos.
With 9:58 left in the third quarter, in what had been a lacklustre game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to that point, the Argos quarterback completed a 29-yard pass to Arland Bruce III to become pro football's career leading passer, eclipsing former NFL and CFL great Warren Moon.
The shovel pass resulted in a touchdown, and an 11-3 lead, which the Argos (6-5) never surrendered, whipping the Tiger-Cats 40-6 in the hostile confines of Ivor Wynne Stadium.
"It really doesn't matter to me," Allen said of the unspectacular shovel pass, which broke the record. "I think that pass was beautiful. That's what it takes sometimes."
The actual pass was only about five yards. Bruce did the rest.
Heading into the game, Allen was only 165 yards short of breaking Moon's mark of 70,553 yards.
"I was in awe," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said of the record, adding that he wouldn't put it past Allen, 43, to eventually go over 80,000 yards. "It felt like I did it. It was one of the most amazing moments I've ever had during a football game, the most emotional I ever got."
Allen also said the 80,000-yard mark is within reach.
"I believe I'm capable of doing that," Allen said.
A presentation was made to the Toronto quarterback right after the TD by CFL commissioner Tom Wright and the Ivor Wynne crowd of 28,891 responded with a nice ovation. The quick ceremony almost didn't come off though, as Allen had to ask Bruce a couple of times for the ball.
"He didn't want to give it to me," Allen said with a laugh.
"I didn't know it was the record," said Bruce. "I thought it was a (running play). I didn't know it counted as a pass.
"I'm blessed to be part of history."
Allen, who has played 22 seasons in the CFL, also passed the 5,000 mark in career completions. He finished the game with 207 yards (for 70,596 in total), with a pair of TDs, going 16-for-24, and did not toss an interception.
For the Tiger-Cats, last night's loss marked another low point in what has been a dismal season for the 2-10 team. For the fourth game in a row, Hamilton failed to score a touchdown at home and it's likely Ivor Wynne will not see a crowd the size of yesterday's game again this season. The Ticats turned the ball over nine times.
Toronto moved ahead 18-6 with 11:34 to go in the game when Allen completed a short touchdown pass to Canadian Jeff Johnson, who saw the ball a lot last night with regular starting running back John Avery out with an ankle injury.
Michael Bishop came in for Allen late in the fourth and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Bruce for a 32-6 lead, as the Argos captured their fourth win in a row.
Every time Hamilton threatened, something seemed to go terribly wrong, as was the case in the fourth quarter. After completing a 40-yard pass to give his Tiger-Cats excellent field position and a chance for a touchdown, Hamilton quarterback Jason Maas blew any chance the home side had when he tossed an interception to Toronto's Byron Parker, who ran it back 86 yards for a touchdown and 25-6 lead.
Another example of Hamilton's lack of a killer instinct came in the third quarter. Kick returner Willie Quinnie ran back a punt for 55 yards, and would have went all the way if not for the kicker, Noel Prefontaine, knocking him out of bounds. Unfortunately for the local faithful, a holding call pushed the ball back to Hamilton's 28-yard line and, again, a promising drive died a agonizing death.