TORONTO – Benoit Marion and the Toronto Argonauts’ punt-coverage team added to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats fourth-quarter woes Saturday night.
Marion returned a blocked punt 24 yards for the go-ahead touchdown to rally Toronto to a wild 34-20 home win over Hamilton. After Trevor Hoyte blocked Michael Domagala’s punt, Marion picked up the loose ball and ran it in 2:37 into the fourth quarter to interrupt a 17-17 tie.
Marion’s TD got here moments after Boris Bede’s 44-yard field goal sailed wide, because of a nasty snap, as the only tied the sport at 1:14.
“We at all times discuss if we win the special-teams battle, for probably the most part, we’ve likelihood to win the football game,” said Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. “It was an enormous play.
“That was the very best performance our special teams have had since I’ve been here. Our cover teams were excellent as well.”
Dinwiddie said Mickey Donovan, Toronto’s special-teams coordinator, approached him last week with a punt-block scheme he felt may very well be successful against Hamilton.
“Mickey felt good about it,” Dinwiddie said. “We got here close on the one before that,” Dinwiddie said. “After which we had the notice to go get the ball, scoop and rating.
“I feel there was probably six guys who could’ve scored on that play.”
Seth Small’s 17-yard field goal at 8:53 pulled Hamilton to inside 24-20. It was aided by Hamilton’s successful challenge of an incompletion that resulted in a 38-yard pass interference call on Toronto’s Royce Metchie on Ticats’ receiver Tim White.
Nevertheless, Toronto countered with a 59-yard, eight-play march that Bede capped with an 18-yard field goal at 12:35. That delighted the BMO Field gathering of 11,623 on a night where each Lady Gaga and Drake were also acting at Rogers Centre and Budweiser Stage, respectively.
Chris Edwards cemented the victory, returning a Dane Evans interception 40 yards for a touchdown at 13:12. Toronto linebacker Wynton McManis was stellar with 10 tackles and a forced fumble.
Evans was 28 of 42 passing for 302 yards with a TD and interception. Toronto starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson accomplished 17 of 27 attempts for 230 yards and a touchdown.
Bethel-Thompson said he could sense Toronto’s special-teams units were poised to deliver a game-changing play.
“They were playing physical all night, you could possibly feel it,” he said. “After we kicked the ball off there have been bodies flying down there and so they were punishing the Ticats all night.
“That (blocked punt) was a culmination of a whole game of effort and it’s beautiful when plenty of really hard-working guys come together and keep pushing the envelope after which it breaks through like that. An enormous swing, an enormous play. It was awesome.”
Toronto (4-3) remained atop the East Division with the win. Hamilton (2-6) is tied for second with the Montreal Alouettes (2-6). The Argos erased a 14-6 halftime deficit by outscoring the Ticats 28-6 within the second half, including 18-3 within the fourth.
It marked the seventh time in eight games this season that Hamilton had been outscored within the second half. The Ticats have been outscored 154-58 within the second half this 12 months and by a whopping 95-29 margin within the fourth quarter.
“Within the defining moments, they made the plays,” said Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer.
It was a slow start for Toronto’s offence, which gathered just 88 net first-half yards, in comparison with 219 for Hamilton.
“We’ve got to start out faster, everyone knows that,” Dinwiddie said. “We’ve got to go take a look at what we’re doing schematically again.
“But the good part is we make our halftime adjustments and we play well at the tip. We’ve just got to play higher in the primary half.”
Saturday’s game was the primary of 4 between the longtime rivals. They square off again in Hamilton on Friday night before the Ticats revisit the Argos on Aug. 26.
The four-game series culminates with the annual Labour Day showdown Sept. 5 at Tim Hortons Field.
“It’s not great,” Bethel-Thompson said of the 4 dates. “We’re going to be so sick of playing one another by (third and fourth games) but immediately it’s just one after the other.
“It’s one other opponent five days away. It’s going to be a chess match of how much do we alter, now much do they modify? It’s going to be a physical game, they’ve championship DNA there, they’re going to bring it and it’s of their house. We’ve got to get our bodies right and prepare for war again.”
Dinwiddie opted for a more philosophical approach.
“It’s a giant month for us but it surely began with this one,” he said. “We are able to’t just feel like we’re going to walk into their stadium and get it done.
“It’s a tricky place to play, their fans are going to be rowdy like they at all times are. It’s an amazing environment.”
Cam Phillips scored Toronto’s other touchdown while Andrew Harris had a two-point convert. Bede kicked three field goals and a convert with the rest of the points coming on a security.
Don Jackson had Hamilton’s touchdown. Small booted 4 field goals and a convert while Domagala added a single.
Toronto pulled to inside 17-16 after Domagala gave up a security at 13:16 of the third. It got here after Lawrence Woods III elected to return John Haggerty’s booming 65-yard punt on the Hamilton goal line and was tackled after only a three-yard return.
Bethel-Thompson capped a three-play, 70-yard march by evading the sack and hitting Phillips on a 13-yard TD strike at 7:45. Then he found Harris on the two-point convert to chop Hamilton’s result in 17-14.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2022.
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