For a team that hasn’t caught much in the way of breaks this season, the Argos must have thought the football gods were finally smiling upon them when Zeke Moreno intercepted the first play from scrimmage Friday against Hamilton and returned it for a touchdown. Then came the penalty flag — offside, and the score was wiped off the board.
“It’s frustrating,” Moreno said afterward. “You make a big play and have it taken away because a player apparently lined up an inch offside. It’s just deflating.”
The Ticats capitalized on the revived drive, converting a field goal en route to a commanding 20-0 halftime lead and eventual 26-17 win — the Argos’ 11th loss in their last 12 games and seventh in eight games at Rogers Centre.
Following a frustrating trend, Toronto’s offense was again non-existent in the first two quarters, gaining a total of 67 yards, including just 30 through the air on three Kerry Joseph completions.
Hamilton benefited from late first quarter gamble by Argos coach Bart Andrus to go for it on third & one from Toronto’s own 38. Joseph was stopped short on a sneak, giving the Ticats terrific field position that led to their first touchdown, a one-yard run by short yardage quarterback Aaron Tafralis. Afterward, Andrus was unapologetic for the risk.
“We’ve been picking up third & ones all year,” he said. “That’s the first one in recent history that I can recall we didn’t make.
“We just didn’t get any push,” he added. “It comes down to the fact that you’ve got to be able to block people.”
The Argos finally did get on the board on the opening drive of the second half, scoring when Joseph found Jeff Johnson on third & goal from the one-yard line.
After Nick Setta 34-yard field goal gave the Ticats a 23-7 lead late in the third, Andrus found himself in another position to gamble. On third & five on the Hamilton 10-yard line midway through the fourth, he opted for a Justin Medlock field goal, which kept it a two-possession game when a touchdown and a two-point conversion could have pulled Toronto within one score. Again, when called upon after the game, Andrus stood by his decision.
“I didn’t consider going for it,” Andrus said, “We had seven minutes left and got three more possesions, but we only managed to score on one of them.
“The problem, to me, in those last seven minutes is we didn’t stop them. We gave up two long drives. What we needed was a couple two-and-outs.”
The one score Toronto did add was a 95-yard hookup from Joseph to Jeremy Carter to cut the lead to 23-17, the Argos’ longest play from scrimmage this season. Still, in typical Argo fashion, it was too little, too late.
For the second straight week, Joseph finished with nice numbers that were padded by a furious late push that fell short. He completed 14-of-23 attempts for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Hamilton’s Kevin Glenn outdid him, completing 28-of-38 for 322 yards and one score.
One Argo was able to reach a personal milestone — running back Jamal Robertson eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark late in the first quarter, become the sixth player in team history to reach the mark and the first since Michael Jenkins in 2001.
“It’s a positive note,” Robertson said after the game, “but with the way the season has gone, it’s kind of hard to celebrate.
“I’m proud of it,” he added. “It’s good for myself and for the organization. But when you have lots of yards and not enough wins, it’s hard to get excited.”