Toronto Argonauts win inaugural Labor Day Classic at Tim Hortons Field

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After completing their four-game streak with three wins over the Tiger-Cats, the Argonauts can now focus on another season-defining set against the revamped Redblacks and try to tighten their grip on the top spot in the CFL East.

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The Argos begin a two-game series in Ottawa on a winning note – their 6-5 record makes them the only team in the dark in the four-team division – after losing 28-8 to the Ticats in the Hammer.

It was the Boatmen’s first victory in the annual Labor Day Classic since 2012 and their first in eight tries at Tim Hortons Field.

Brandon Banks, however, continued his undefeated run on Labor Day by scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns — one on a weirdly designed double backhand with QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson as the lead tackler, the other during of a reception that officially sealed the deal against his former team.

“I saw Mac not opening,” Banks told The Canadian Press with a chuckle at his first TD. “He was supposed to open up so I could finish the touchdown.

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“But I saw Mac turn around and block for me, so that means running the ball. I found a corridor and I was able to score.

The longtime Ticat also set up the Argos’ first touchdown with its only other catch of the day — a 53-yard strike on the team’s second offensive series.

“I didn’t know that,” Banks said of her classic record. “Undefeated on Labor Day is bragging rights.

“It just sends a message to them that I can still play. I knew I could play, but it just lets them know I still can. All skeptics, anyway.

It was a weird and ugly game, mixed in with some high-end gameplay moments, but few will remember the final installment of this grill feud. Toronto’s two fourth-quarter majors suffered turnovers in Hamilton, setting up the deciding game, but another Jamal Peters interception, his second of the day and fifth in two weeks. He leads the CFL in this department.

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The Ticats stayed in the game for most of the afternoon because Toronto’s offense was hideous. But they couldn’t do much with it because their own quarterbacking game was even more hideous. And that’s why Toronto won.

There are areas the Argos can build on after Monday’s win, but the main theme involves their offense, which features no running play, and questionable quarterback play.

Despite a big game from the Argos defense – which included both picks and a key turnover on downs leading up to Banks’ first TD – it’s hard to pass judgment when the opposing team’s offense is a joke in the absence of a legitimate QB.

Still, the defense threw a shutout in the second half and gave up only one punt in the first. The Ticats’ only touchdown came in the second quarter when Jumal Rolle fired a short MBT pitch that slipped past Damonte Coxie and returned it 66 yards to tie the game 8-8.

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Coxie, no doubt, could have caught it, but the throw was slightly high and behind him and the game was well off the chains even though a completion was made on the quick tilt.

Picking a six wasn’t MBT’s only mistake in the first half. Late in the quarter, with the Argos in scoring position, he threw an inexcusable interception into the end zone that he didn’t even bother to have his eyes on the court before lifting it.

At least Hamilton had an excuse considering third quarterback Jamie Newman was making his debut with Dane Evans and Matthew Shiltz on the sidelines.

Jalen Morton also had a chance and was no better. It was his failed QB attempt at third and one foot from the Hamilton 27 that clearly pushed the game in favor of the Argos.

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Overall, however, it was a classic gong show. Granted, the defenses were good, but mostly because the offenses were so bad.

Obviously, the Argos should have led 17-1 at the break.

It was only a matter of time before Hamilton’s defense started to feel the brunt of a horrible offense and it all came unstuck in the fourth quarter.

KICK IN THE PANTS

Boris Bede missed from 43 yards in the first quarter when the Argos took advantage of the wind.
He should have succeeded and the Argos should have led 10-1.

Bede came into the day having scored 11 field goals in a row. The stray kick was his sixth of the season. In last year’s shortened 14-game season, Bede missed six in total.

He gave the Argos an 11-8 lead with two minutes left in the third when Toronto had to settle for three points.

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Officials spoiled it, however, by deciding that DaVaris Daniels was down after a completion. Two Ticats defenders collided as MBT’s throw threaded the needle at Daniels, who got up and ran into the end zone, neither of the Ticats hitting him.

ARGONOTES

Markeith Ambles scored the Argos’ first touchdown on a 26-yard catch-run-flip in the end zone in the first quarter… Bruising RB AJ Ouellette had a busy day, rushing for 46 yards on 11 carries catching five balls out of the backfield for another 70 … In his debut, Jeremiah Haydel became the fifth player to be used in the Argos kickoff return game. He also took care of the kickoffs… The next games for the Argos are the two games against the Rouge et Noir — both in Ottawa — starting on Saturday. The Redblacks are 3-8 but have won back-to-back victories and beat the Boatmen at BMO Field for their first victory in July.

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