Chad Owens and Swayze Waters led the Toronto Argonauts to a thrilling 43-40 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday evening at the Rogers Centre.
Owens entered Thursday’ season finale against Hamilton just 73 yards shy of Michael “Pinball” Clemons’ 1997 CFL record of 3,840 all-purpose yards.
It did not take long for the “Fly’ in Hawaiian” to etch his name in to the history books as the 30-year old surpassed Clemons’ record on a 29-yard kickoff return early on in the second quarter.
Owens exited the game to a standing ovation from the Toronto faithful and was presented with a lovely framed photograph commemorating his phenomenal season from Argonauts’ General Manger, Jim Barker.
Heading into Thursday’s tilt with the Tiger-Cats, Scott Milanovich made it clear that he did not want to risk any serious injuries a week prior to the Argonauts’ first home playoff game since the 2007 CFL season. The Boatmen were without the likes of Ricky Ray, Chad Kackert, Ronald Flemons, Andre Durie, and Maurice Mann on Thursday evening.
However, despite the absence of many key starters, the Argos’ managed to strike first against a playoff-hungry Tiger-Cats squad. On the first play from scrimmage, Jarious Jackson would connect with Dontrelle Inman for a 46-yard completion. Swayze Waters would convert the big-play into points with a 36-yard field goal putting the Boatmen up 3-0 early on.
On the ensuing Tiger-Cats offensive possession, Henry Burris would throw his third pick-six of the season against the Argonauts. Jordan Younger intercepted Burris’ errant pass attempt and ran it back 36 yards to extend the Argos lead to 10-0. The interception was Younger’s fourth of the season.
The Argonauts would begin their second offensive possession at their own ten-yard line. Jarious Jackson would orchestrate a seven-play, 89-yard drive capped off by an 18-yard Swayze Waters field goal. The big-play on the drive came courtesy of rookie running back, Gerald Riggs JR., who galloped 61 yards deep into Tiger-Cats territory. The 61-yard rush is the longest by any Argonaut running back in 2012.
The Tiger-Cats would finally get on the scoreboard late in the first quarter. Luca Congi’s 28-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter cut the Ticats deficit to 13-3.
The Argonauts would counter with a quick three-play, 76-yard touchdown drive. The Boatmen would pull out some trickery, as Chad Owens would slip out to the wide side of the field and deliver a 49-yard completion to Spencer Watt. Jarious Jackson would complete the drive by finding Dontrelle Inman in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown extending the Argos lead to 20-3.
Inman lead all Argonauts receivers with seven receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown.
Jackson would exit the game at the end of the first quarter. He finished 4-of-5 with 92 yards passing and one touchdown.
Luca Congi would convert his second field goal attempt of the game early on in the second quarter, reducing the Argos lead to 20-6.
The Ticats would continue to surge back as Chris Williams continued his tremendous play in 2012 with a 93-yard touchdown reception at the mid-way point of the second quarter. The reception was Williams’ sixteenth touchdown of the season, setting a new single-season Tiger-Cats record. Henry Burris also recorded his 40th touchdown pass of the season on the play. Burris joins elite company, as he is only the fifth quarterback to throw for 40+ touchdowns in a single-season.
On the following Ticats offensive possession, Dante Paige-Moss forced a fumble deep in Ticats territory. The Argos would recover the fumble and Gerald Riggs would record his first rushing touchdown of the season, extending the Argos lead to 27-13.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Henry Burris would connect with Aaron Kelly on a third and goal, capping a nine-play, 64-yard drive.
Jordan Younger would add a late first half interception to stall a Tiger-Cats drive.
Luca Congi was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts for the Ticats and opened the second half by cutting the Argos lead to 27-23.
The Argos countered with a field goal of their own, re-establishing the Boatmen’s seven-point lead.
Congi would make good on another field goal with five minutes and thirty seconds remaining in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 30-26.
Johnnie Dixon led all Argonaut defenders with seven tackles on Thursday evening. He also added a forced fumble with less than one minute remaining in the third quarter. Jason Pottinger would recover the fumble putting an end to a long Tiger-Cats drive.
Zach Collaros also received playing time on Thursday evening. He entered the game in the fourth quarter and orchestrated an impressive nine-play, 100-yard touchdown drive capped off by Sammy Tranks’ first touchdown of the season.
The Argos would re-establish a double-digit lead with under five minutes remaining in the game as Swayze Waters connected on a 42-yard field goal to make it 40-26.
However, as we all know, no lead is safe in the Canadian Football League.
Henry Burris methodically led the Tiger-Cats downfield and capped off a seventeen-play, 83-yard possession with a three-yard touchdown pass to Avon Cobourne.
With less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Burris showed his veteran savvy, tying the game at 40-40 as he found Chris Williams in the end zone for his second touchdown reception of the game.
However, the Argonauts retained possession of the ball with just over one minute remaining in the game and Zach Collaros led the Boatmen down to the Hamilton 42-yard line, setting up a 51-yard Swayze Waters field goal.
The Argos allowed the play clock to click down to zero prior to Swayze splitting the uprights, lifting the Boatmen to victory.
With the loss, the Ticats are now officially eliminated from post-season contention.
Chad Owens finishes the 2012 regular season with 3,863 all-purpose yards. His final stat line for Thursday evening included three receptions for 39 yards and 64 kick return yards.
Collaros led all Argonaut quarterbacks with 111 yards passing and one touchdown. Trevor Harris also chipped in going 7-of-14 with 77 yards passing.
Next on the schedule for the Argonauts is a home playoff game on November 11. It is the first home playoff game for the Argos since the 2007 season.
– Daniele Franceschi –