TORONTO — Jeremiah Masoli and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats‘ offence found themselves Saturday night.
Masoli threw three TD passes and ran for another as Hamilton’s offence rolled up 604 net yards in a lopsided 64-14 road win over the Toronto Argonauts. The unit mustered just 230 yards in the Ticats’ 23-17 season-opening victory over Saskatchewan last week.
Tommy Condell is in his second stint as Hamilton’s offensive co-ordinator but was promoted from receivers coach this time around in May after June Jones left for the XFL.
"Tommy didn’t have a whole off-season to prepare as the OC so it is what it is," Masoli said. "We have a tight window but no excuses at all, we still had plays to be made out there last week and didn’t make them.
"Sometimes that’s good when you can still win and leave all those plays out there. It kind of gave us a boost of energy for this week just to make sure we got it done."
Hamilton (2-0) cemented the win by outscoring Toronto (0-1) by a whopping 44-8 margin in the second half. Masoli ignited the fireworks with three TD strikes and a two-point conversion in the third quarter to stake the Ticats to a commanding 41-6 advantage.
"That was the feeling all week," Masoli said. "If we execute and do the little things right that coach is preaching and teaching us, then we’ll be fine."
Masoli found Bralon Addison on a 21-yard TD strike just 1:15 into the third before hitting a wide-open Nikola Kalinic from 31 yards out at 8:10. He found Addison on the two-point convert before hitting Addison on a 10-yard touchdown pass at 13:26 to the dismay of the BMO Field gathering of 16,734.
Brandon Banks added to Toronto’s misery by returning a missed field goal 115 yards for the TD just 50 seconds into the fourth. Then Ticats backup Dane Evans hit Addison on a 44-yard scoring strike, Addison’s third touchdown of the game.
Fittingly, the game ended with former Argo Rico Murray returning an interception 37 yards for the touchdown. Hamilton coach Orlondo Steinauer didn’t kick the convert, which if successful would’ve set a Ticats’ record for largest margin of victory.
"I had no clue," Steinauer said. "We understand points do make a difference but we play them three times so there’s going to be a winner either way.
"We came here to get a win and two points and at that point it was a done deal. We did things well in all three phases but we’re nowhere near where we need to be. I know the score would suggest otherwise but we know that inside. However two points is two points and we’re going to enjoy the win."
Addison finished with six catches for 107 yards. Hamilton running back Sean Thomas-Erlington ran for 109 yards on 12 carries while Banks added seven catches 105 yards.
"If you don’t know, Bralon is a dog," Masoli said. "We all know it inside our room and we’re going to continue to feed him the rock.
"We’ve got some talent, for sure."
Masoli improved to 6-1 against the Argos but spoiled more than just their home/season opener. Before the game, Toronto honoured former starter Ricky Ray, who retired last month to cap a 17-year pro career, 16 in the CFL with Edmonton (2002-03, 2005-2011) and Double Blue (2012-2018).
Ray, who attended the game with his wife and two young daughters, won a record four Grey Cups as a starter. He retired after suffering a season-ending neck injury in a 41-7 home loss to Calgary last June 23 and stands fourth in all-time CFL passing yards (60,736).
Saturday’s game marked just the second time since 2011 that Ray wasn’t Toronto’s season-opening starter. James Franklin drew that assignment but was 16-of-26 passing for 211 yards and an interception before giving way to McLeod Bethel-Thompson in the fourth.
Corey Chamblin, in his Toronto head-coaching debut, took a philosophical approach to the one-sided loss.
"Everything we have has been exposed, that’s the positive in it," he said. "We know exactly where it is in our schematics, individual play and coaching.
"We’re fortunate to have another game next week and this wasn’t the championship game."
"A lot of frustration, a lot of mistakes but you can’t lose faith after the first game," Franklin said. "We just try to learn from it."
The Argos don’t have time to dwell upon the loss as they visit Saskatchewan on Canada Day.
"I’ve never got whupped like this in my career," said receiver Armanti Edward, who had a team-high four catches for 73 yards and Toronto’s only TD. "It’s hard to take but we know what we’ve got to do now to get better."
Maleek Irons scored Hamilton’s other touchdown while Marcus Tucker added another two-point convert. Lirim Hajrullahu booted three field goals and a convert while Gabriel Amavizca had two converts.
Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence registered an interception and sack. He played after appealing the two-game suspension received from the CFL last week for hitting Saskatchewan quarterback Zach Collaros in the head.
S.J. Green added a two-point convert for Toronto. Drew Brown kicked two field goals, the first tying the score 3-3 in the opening quarter.