The Canadian Press
HAMILTON–C.J. Gable and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats finally have something to smile about.
Gable’s one-yard TD run with 2:30 to go earned Hamilton its first win of the season, a lightning-delayed 24-22 decision over the Toronto Argonauts last night.
The victory not only halted an ugly eight-game losing streak, but capped a miserable week highlighted by the franchise rescinding its controversial decision to hire former Baylor coach Art Briles.
“All the things that happened this week, I think pulled everybody together,” said Hamilton coach June Jones, who won his CFL head-coaching debut.
“In tough times, teams come together and I think that’s what happened this week,” he noted.
“The guys put it on themselves to make a difference and we did.”
Gable scored after Jones successfully challenged a pass interference call against former Ticat Rico Murray, who was defending Luke Tasker in the end zone.
That gave Hamilton the ball at the Toronto one-yard line.
The Argos drove to the Hamilton 30-yard line but Lirim Hajrullahu missed a 37-yard field goal that went for a single with 45 seconds left.
Toronto got the ball at its 35-yard line with two seconds to go but backup quarterback Cody Fajardo couldn’t pull out the miracle victory.
Jones was promoted to head coach following Hamilton’s 37-18 loss to Ottawa on Aug. 18 when vice-president of football operations, Kent Austin, relinquished those duties.
Last Monday, Jones hired long-time friend Briles as a Ticats’ assistant.
The 61-year-old Briles was fired last year as head coach at Baylor in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that included members of the football team.
Less than 12 hours after hiring Briles, the Ticats reversed the decision amid pressure from the CFL and a serious backlash from fans, sponsors, and the media.
There also were reports the Ticats had discussed trading veteran quarterback Zach Collaros to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and also had received an offer from Toronto.
But Jeremiah Masoli, who started last night in place of Collaros, said the Ticats’ players were oblivious to all the off-field stories.
“We have nothing to do with any of that as football players, it really didn’t matter,” he noted.
“Our record and where we’re at right now that’s what we were worried about,” Masoli stressed.
“Just getting a win.”
It was by no means a pretty victory. Hamilton managed just 261 net offensive yards, had the ball just over 25 minutes, and were a dismal 33 percent in second-down conversions.
But Jones felt Hamilton came out strong after the two-hour, eight-minute lightning delay in the first half.
“I could really see when they [Ticats’ offence] came back out after the delay that they were on, they were hitting a lot of passes,” he noted.
“A win is a win.”
Masoli finished 19-of-33 passing for 219 yards and a TD.
Ricky Ray’s 16-yard strike to DeVier Posey at 4:05 of the fourth put Toronto (4-7) ahead 21-17 after falling behind 17-7 in the third.
The Argos fell to 0-4 at Tim Hortons Field and remain second in the East Division, one point behind the Ottawa Redblacks (4-6-1).
Play was halted at 6:45 of the second quarter with Toronto leading 6-0.
It no longer was raining when play resumed. And the brisk 39 km/h wind that blew to open the contest was non-existent.
“Our guys did a great job,” said Argos’ coach Marc Trestman. “We did a walkthrough, we got them stretched out.
“I think we came out and played reasonably well.
“Right now we’re a good football team not playing good football . . . we’re not playing well enough to win,” Trestman conceded.
“We’re doing too many things you can’t do to win football games in this league and our guys know it.”
Calgary beat Edmonton 39-18 in the other CFL game on Labour Day.