Hamilton Tiger-Cats mint a perfect fourth quarter to defeat Argonauts


Published August 13, 2022 at 12:18 am

For one night at least, with black-visored understudy Matt Shiltz behind centre, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats owned the fourth quarter.

The proof of whether Hamilton’s 34-27 win against the Toronto Argonauts on Friday is catalytic will come across the second half of the Canadian Football League regular season. Regardless, the Tiger-Cats (3-6) handled their archrival and their nemesis, the game’s final act. In front of a crowd of 23,018 at Tim Hortons Field, Shiltz led a 17-point run across three consecutive scoring drives. Meantime, Hamilton’s defence and special teams kept the East Division-leading Argonauts (4-4) and quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson out of the end zone for the entire second half.

The win also means the Tiger-Cats are tied with the Montréal Alouettes (3-6) for second place in the division heading into their matchup on Aug. 20.

Hamilton had a second-half point differential of minus-87 across their first eight games. They were plus-14 on Friday, even though Shiltz missed the entire third quarter with a lower-body injury. Third-string rookie QB Jamie Newman, who had never tried a CFL pass, had to lead a virtual rush-only scheme for 15 minutes.

Five plays after returning to the game, Shiltz promptly hit Tim White on a 60-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 24-24 with 10:15 left. The explosion play came right after one had come off the scoreboard. Lawrence Woods III returned a punt 87 yards for a TD, but it was called back for after Hamilton’s Micah Johnson was penalized for holding.

The next time Hamilton had the ball, Newman turned a quarterback sneak into a 30-yard rush after bobbling the snap, but keeping his wits and following blocks from guard Brandon Revenberg and tackle Travis Vornkahl, making it to Toronto’s 23-yard line. On the next snap, the other side of the line, centre Alex Fontana, guard Coulter Woodmansey and tackle Colin Kelly, created a hole as wide as Main St. at 3:30 a.m., and Sean Thomas Erlington raced 23 yards past Argonauts defensive back DaShaun Amos to house the winning TD with 3:10 left.

Johnson made up for the penalty by sacking Bethel-Thompson on Toronto’s first offensive play after Hamilton had gone ahead. The Tiger-Cats did have one sour note when boundary-side cornerback Jumal Rolle needed help leaving the field after being injured on the game’s final play from scrimmage.

The teams traded field goals in the final minutes, as Toronto stayed mindful of a scenario where points scored could decide the season tiebreaker between the two teams. The rivals still have two more matchups, on Aug. 26 at BMO Field and on Sept. 5 (Labour Day) in Hamilton.

Shiltz, who was starting for Hamilton with Dane Evans (shoulder) on the one-game injured list, was 14-of-19 passing for 176 yards with a a touchdown and an interception. He had four rushes for 15 yards. Newman added seven rushes for a game-most 55 yards and one TD.

Woods was outstanding for Hamilton with 222 return yards (153 on six punts, 69 yards on three kickoffs). White had a game-most 77 receiving yards, catching 4-of-7 targets.

Bethel-Thompson completed 24-of-37 passes for 287 yards and a TD.

Toronto lost receiver Cam Phillips to injury in the pre-game warmup. Veteran running back Andrew Harris had his shoulder pads off on the Argos’ sideline in the second quarter.

Veteran wide receiver Brandon (Speedy B) Banks, the former Hamilton star, had two receptions for 27 yards. That, however, came on a eight targets, although Banks did drew a pass interference penalty that helped lead to a Toronto TD.

DaVaris Daniels and Chad Kelly scored Toronto’s touchdowns. Boris Bede booted four field goals and two converts while John Haggerty added a single.

Tiger-Cats rookie wide receiver Kiondre Smith — the son of former CFL star Adrion (Peewee) Smith — had a two-point convert for Hamilton. The 22-year-old became the first player born in the 2000s to score points for Hamilton. Smith entered the world on Jan. 3, 2000.

Hamilton’s Seth Small booted four field goals, including a season-longest 46-yarder, and a convert.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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