TORONTO — In some ways, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts are not so dissimilar.
While the Argos (6-12) will begin the eight-month process of cleaning away a last-place finish in the East on Friday morning and the Ticats (8-10) start preparing to face either Montreal or Winnipeg in next week’s division semi-final, the Ontario arch-rivals are both searching for consistency on offence and defence.
Although Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille, as he stubbornly continues to rotate quarterbacks Kevin Glenn and Quinton Porter, is probably a little more desperate after his team dropped its last game of the season 33-16 to Toronto at Rogers Centre on Thursday night. Toronto slotback Andre Durie had his first 100-yard receiving game with 125 yards and a touchdown in each half.
As they said they would, Bellefeuille and Toronto head coach Jim Barker used all the quarterbacks at their disposal. Barker said Argos backup Dalton Bell would start in place of Steven Jyles, who was still undergoing tests after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Johnny Sears last week. Bell finished with 216 receiving yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Although Bell said Barker told him explicitly to “take care of the football,” Hamilton cornerback Markeith Knowlton picked off a Bell pass intended for receiver Maurice Mann on the Argos second series, which set-up a 34-yard field goal for Hamilton kicker Justin Medlock.
Bell, unfazed, replied with an 81-yard drive, including a 32-yard catch by receiver Jermaine Copeland before a 20-yard touchdown pass to Durie. Copeland’s diving catch gave him the 24 yards he needed to pass 10,000 for his career.
It would be the only trip to the end zone for either team for two quarters as the game became a kicker’s duel between Medlock and Toronto’s Noel Prefontaine. The two exchanged three points in the second quarter, but a 51-yard and 49-yard kick in the third quarter gave Toronto a 16-9.
After four interceptions against Saskatchewan last week, quarterback Kevin Glenn, who Bellefeuille insists is still Hamilton’s starter, was mistake-free in the first half going 14 for 19 for 150 yards. Porter took over after halftime and eventually tied the score with a five-yard pass to receiver Aaron Kelly that capped off 54-yard drive to start the fourth quarter.
But the Argos answered a 1½ minutes later with 78-yard drive, kept alive by a questionable defensive pass interference call. A 20-yard-pass from Bell to Durie put the Argos on top again. And Toronto added another score 60 seconds later after defensive back Jasper Simmons intercepted Porter and running back Cory Boyd walked into the end zone. Boyd finished the game with 105 yards.
Porter left the game midway through the fourth quarter with 75 passing yards a touchdown and an interception. Third-string quarterback Jason Boltus took over, but Prefontaine added his fourth field goal with a minute to go in the game.
Hamilton will wait until Saturday night to learn if it will travel to Winnipeg or Montreal next week.