Lemon getting better every game

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:59 AM ET

HAMILTON - Cleo Lemon isnít going down without a fight.

The oft-maligned Argonauts quarterback knows the whispers are out there, that he should be replaced by Steven Jyles once the latter comes off the nine-game injured list next month.

The chatter was justified, given the Argosí 1-5 record through six games, though Lemon passed for more than 300 yards against the Montreal Alouettes last week.

On Saturday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium, Lemon continued to turn the screw the other way.

The Argos lost again, dropping their record to 1-6 with a 37-32 fall at the hands of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, setting them up for what wonít be a memorable home game on Thursday night against the equally inept Saskatchewan Roughriders, also 1-6.

But this loss canít be hung on Lemon, who had 368 yards in the air (a personal CFL best) and three touchdown passes. The second-year Canadian Football League quarterback stretched the field early and often versus the Ticats, a performance that was highlighted by a 69-yard toss to Brandon Rideau in the fourth quarter.

The offensive line gave Lemon plenty of time to make his reads and complete passes. As a result, Lemon was calm and collected.

Itís the defence, in its first game under new defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer, that wasnít up to par.

Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker has been wondering for weeks whether the offence and defence finally would line up on the same page. It didnít happen at Ivor Wynne, but Lemon, for the most part, did his part to make it right.

At the half

With one minute, 36 seconds left and the Argos at third-and-five on their own 31-yard line, Barker chose to go for the first down rather than punt. Lemonís pass was tipped, and the Ticats took over. Itís fine to question Barkerís decision, but Noel Prefontaine had not been punting well and Lemon had been sharp ... Cory Boyd returned after missing four games but did not dominate, which was not overly surprising considering he did not have a lot of success against Hamilton a year ago. Boyd didnít have to be the go-to guy thanks to the success of the Argosí passing game ... We love a bone-crushing hit that jars the football loose, such as the one that Argos defensive back Lin-J Shell laid on Chris Williams in the second quarter. But when Shell took a dumb penalty for taunting, which he was assessed when he stood over Williams and yapped at the prone receiver, he put himself ahead of the team. Shell was lucky that Avon Cobourne was flagged for taunting on the same play ... Byron Parker, who was saying on Friday that he has played some of his best CFL games at Ivor Wynne, was burned on Hamiltonís opening drive when Cobourne ran right past him for a 29-yard run. Dave Stala, covered by Shell, caught a 10-yard touchdown pass to complete the drive ... The touchdown was Stalaís seventh of the season, establishing a personal career high ... Rideau made two 21-yard catches on Torontoís first possession, one to start the drive and the other to end it in the end zone. Both times, Rideau eluded the coverage of cornerback Marcell Young ... Steinauerís defence didnít look great when linemen Ricky Foley and Ronald Flemons and linebacker Ejiro Kuale all converged on Ticats quarterback Kevin Glenn at the same time. Glenn escaped the pressure and threw the ball away, thereby not losing any yards, but the home team had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Justin Medlock two plays later ... Foley went into the game with 31 tackles, making him the only defensive lineman among the CFLís top 25 tacklers. Foley was tied for sixth ... Speaking of Medlock, the former Argo never seems to miss long field goals. He booted nine on 10 attempts of 40 yards or more, and then calmly nailed a 50-yarder as time expired in the first half. This after the usually reliable Prefontaine missed a 21-yard chip shot for Toronto.

Extra points

The intensity of game underscored the fact that it should have been played on Labour Day, not on a Saturday night in the middle of August. Thereís no way the league can let the Labour Day Classic between the Argos and Ticats go by the wayside again in 2012 ...

Hamilton paid tribute at halftime to Bernie Custis, who 60 years ago this month became the first African-American quarterback to become a regular starter for a professional football team in North America ... The Ticats had allowed just five drives for touchdowns in six games before the Argos had two in the second half ... Backup quarterback Quinton Porter ran for a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and then opened his hands in the shape of a Lotus flower to celebrate the major. Porterís wife gave birth to a daughter named Lotus a couple of days ago ...

Prefontaine missed two games with a quad injury and had trouble punting. Coincidence? ... A time-count violation on the part of Lemon cost the Argos on their last possession of the first half. The Argos lost a down, putting them at third-and-six at the Ticatsí 14-yard line. Thatís when Prefontaine came on and missed the 21-yard try ... Though it was expected that a defence led by Steinauer would result in more pressure on Glenn, thatís not what completely evolved. The Argos

recorded one sack, but it was by linebacker Jordan Younger, not one of the linemen ... Lemon got out of trouble when he scrambled late in the game and found Mike Bradwell for a completion. Though it was just a two-yard gain, itís not the kind of play that Lemon would have been capable of making last season.


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