HAMILTON — Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argonauts had to go the extra mile to earn their first-ever win at Tim Hortons Field.
Ray hit DeVier Posey with a TD pass in overtime as Toronto rallied from a 14-point deficit to earn an exciting 43-35 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night. The win was the Argos’ first in eight contests at Tim Hortons Field and gave them a three-point cushion atop the East Division.
"Obviously not the prettiest game but it was just one of those games where we just kept playing and were able to make some plays at the end" said Ray. "It’s big for our football team but also big for the guys who’ve been here and has never won here.
"To finally get a win here feels really good."
Ray found Posey on a 13-yard TD strike on Toronto’s opening overtime possession before James Wilder Jr. ran in the two-point convert. Hamilton’s Jeremiah Masoli tried to pull the Ticats even on a third-down pass to Jalen Saunders in the Argos’ endzone but the pass fell incomplete.
Ray found Posey on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds remaining in regulation. Wilder Jr. forced overtime by running for the two-point convert that made it 35-35.
Ray finished 25-of-38 passing for 330 yards and three TDs with an interception. He was sacked four times, with three coming in the first half when Hamilton’s defence put continued pressure on the Toronto quarterback.
"I thought Ricky Ray showed as much courage and toughness as any quarterback I’ve ever been around," Toronto coach Marc Trestman said. "He sat in there against the blitz, he knew he was going to take some hits.
"He made the throws when he needed to make the throws, he led the way for us all the way around. We certainly didn’t play well enough to win in the first hal. We started to play a little better in the second half and just kept fighting."
The Argos (7-7) earned a third straight win and put themselves in a very favourable position. Not only does Toronto hold a three-point lead over second-place Ottawa (5-9-1) in the East Division but it has won the season series against all three conference rivals.
"To have those tie-breakers and kind of be out front leading that’s where we want to be," Ray said. "Going into this last stretch it (having tiebreakers) is obviously important for every team in the league but we’re in a good position now."
Posey had a game-high seven catches for 104 yards with the two TDs for Toronto. Wilder Jr., who’d rushed for a combined 331 yards the previous two games, was held to 49 yards on 13 carries but added three catches for 32 yards.
Hamilton (3-10) suffered its second loss in five games despite an outstanding effort from C.J. Gable. He ran for 157 yards and two TDs before a Tim Hortons Field gathering of 24,067.
Interim Hamilton coach June Jones took a calculated risk putting Gable into the lineup off the injured list. Gable replaced Alex Green, who ran for 140 yards in last weekend’s 24-23 road win over the B.C. Lions.
Toronto had no answer for Gable, who registered his first 100-yard game since July 2015. The former USC star broke a 21-21 tie with a three-yard TD run at 13:42 of the third before adding another three-yard touchdown at 2:18 of the fourth to put Hamilton ahead 35-21.
Masoli finished 18-of-32 passing for 288 yards with two TDs and ran five times for 32 yards. Saunders had five catches for a game-high 121 yards while Brandon Banks registered three catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
But the Ticats were flagged 15 times in the game for 135 yards. And they were on the wrong side of a call in the fourth quarter that gave Toronto fullback Declan Cross credit for recovering his own fumble by being the last one to touch the ball before it went out of bounds.
Trouble is, Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence said he was the last one to touch it.
"I batted the ball out, then I told that to the official, who told me it didn’t matter," Lawrence said. "It’s frustrating but at the end of the day that didn’t lose us the game.
"They played better than us when they were supposed to."
Toronto pulled to within 35-27 on two Lirim Hajrullahu field goals.
Cody Fajardo’s one-yard TD run at 4:56 of the third made it 21-21, two plays after Marcus Ball recovered Jeremiah Masoli’s fumble at the Hamilton 11-yard line.
Luke Tasker had Hamiton’s other touchdown. Tasker added a two-point convert while Sergio Castillo booted three converts and two field goals.
Martese Jackson, on a 93-yard punt return, and Armanti Edwards scored Toronto’s other touchdowns. Hajrullahu booted three converts and two field goals.