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Tiger-Cats dominate 2nd half to win 2019 Labour Day Classic over Argonauts

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans (9) celebrates his running touchdown with teammates during first half CFL football game action against the Toronto Argonauts in Hamilton, Ont. on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. .
Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans (9) celebrates his running touchdown with teammates during first half CFL football game action against the Toronto Argonauts in Hamilton, Ont. on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Jackson Bennett and Bralon Addison scored fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats rallied for a 38-27 Labour Day win over the Toronto Argonuats on Monday.

Addison capped 99-yard, eight-play drive with a 17-yard TD catch — his second of the game — at 5:58 to stake Hamilton (9-2) to a 35-27 lead. Bennett’s 25-yard run at 1:19 put the Ticats ahead 28-27 after trailing 24-11 at halftime.

Lirim Hajrullahu’s 44-yard field goal at 13:40 rounded out the scoring.

Ticats’ starter Dane Evans was 31-of-37 passing — completing 19 straight attempts at one point — for 442 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Hamilton earned the comeback win despite losing safety Tunde Adeleke and cornerback/returner Frankie Williams to ejections following a first-quarter melee before 25,093 spectators, a Ticats’ record at Tim Hortons Field.

Hamilton improved to 6-0 at home and earned its sixth consecutive Labour Day win over Toronto (1-9). The Argos haven’t beaten the Ticats at Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day since the facility opened in 2014.

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Addison had 11 catches for 167 yards while Brandon Banks added nine receptions for 109 yards. More importantly, though, the Ticats head into a bye week on a huge positive before road games against Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.

Toronto starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson was 21-of-41 passing for 336 yards and two TDs, the sixth time in eight starts he’s surpassed the 300-yard plateau. Receiver Derel Walker had nine catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns while the Argos’ defence recorded seven sacks and forced five turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles, downs).

Toronto failed to score a rushing TD for a CFL-record 12th straight game dating back to last season.

Tyler Crapigna’s 39-yard field goal gave Toronto a 27-21 lead at 13:26 of the third. Hamilton had pulled to within 24-21 on Evans’ five-yard TD strike to Addison at 9:58 and Hajruallhu’s 50-yard field goal at 5:53.

READ MORE: Rick Zamperin: Labour Day not just another Tiger-Cats vs. Argos showdown

Bethel-Thompson and Walker combined to stake Toronto to a 24-11 half-time advantage. Walker caught Bethel-Thompson TD strikes of 96 and 24 yards and had five catches for 166 yards in the opening two quarters.

Evans opened the scoring with a 10-yard scoring run. But the Ticats’ offence did precious little else with four turnovers — two interceptions, fumble, on downs — as Toronto’s defensive line thoroughly controlled the line of scrimmage with five sacks.

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Evans has now thrown six interceptions in his last three games.

Crapigna’s 33-yard boot with 14 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave Hamilton its 13-point lead. Bethel-Thompson capped a five-play, 75-yard march with the 24-yard TD strike to Walker at 8:51.

Hajrullahu’s 39-yard field goal at 7:06 pulled Hamilton to within 14-11.

READ MORE: Riders edge Blue Bombers in Labour Day Classic

Evans’ scoring run at 3:16 capped Hamilton’s seven-play, 77-yard march to open the contest. Evans then found Banks on the two-point convert.

But Toronto countered with Bethel-Thompson finding a wide-open Walker on a 96-yard TD pass at 4:08 to pull within 8-7. Crapina’s single on the kickoff tied it 8-8.

Crapigna’s 40-yard field goal at 11:01 put Toronto ahead 11-8. It came after Adeleke and Williams were ejected as three separate flags were thrown during a wild altercation that began with Ticats’ linebacker Simoni Lawrence and Argos running back James Wilder Jr. getting into it.

Crapigna connected from 38 yards out at 3:36 of the second to give Toronto a 14-8 lead.