In front of a crowd of 21,492 fans. The Eastern Final saw Toronto control things early on but the squandering of scoring opportunities by the Boatmen opened the door for Ticats QB Dane Evans to come crashing through to play hero for Hamilton.
The Ticats defence which held the Argos out of the end zone all game, Jeff Reinebold and his special teams and Hamilton’s secret weapon Dane Evans catapulted the Ticats to the Grey Cup.
Dane Evans was Mister Perfect on Sunday afternoon. Going 16 for 16 through the air for 249 yards and a touchdown. He also scored twice on the ground.
This will technically be Hamilton’s 30th appearance in the Grey Cup since 1910. Since the 1950 merger, the team has won the Grey Cup championship eight times, most recently in 1999. Since that time, Hamilton has had the longest Grey Cup drought of both the current East Division teams and the CFL. The last time the Ticats won a Grey Cup at home was in 1972; coincidentally, it was the previous Grey Cup to be played in December.
Toronto finishes their strong season one step short of the Grey Cup. They will have to regroup and encounter what will be another unique offseason. With the CFL presumably returning to its normal season schedule in 2022.
Eastern Final: Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Toronto Argonauts Game Recap/Highlights
The Eastern Final kicked off with Hamilton on offence. The first series of the game had two key penalties. Hamilton had a procedure call against them on their first play that set them back. On second and long, after an incompletion by Jeremiah Masoli. Henoc Muamba would intercept Masoli on a deflection over the middle of the field. But the play was called back due to an offsides penalty on the blitzing Cameron Judge.
The penalty would negate the early turnover, but the Argos D would force the Ticats to punt the ball away.
Toronto’s offence would get started near midfield after a penalty on the punt return.
Penalties would continue to play a factor in the early going after McLeod Bethel-Thompson connected with Eric Rogers on second and long to convert a first down. Toronto would face another potential second and long situation, but a JaGared Davis sack would be flagged as a roughing call after he took down MBT in the pocket by his helmet.
Two plays later, McLeod Bethel-Thompson would draw a pass interference penalty down the field by Ciante Evans on Juwan Brescasin. A completion to Eric Rogers would then set up the Argos with a first and goal at the three. But the Ticats defence would hold firm, and after some debate by Ryan Dinwiddie, the Argos would settle for a short field goal by Boris Bede to take the early 3-0 lead.
The Argos defence would force another two and out on Hamilton’s second series. Toronto’s offensive attack would get going on a 24-yard catch and run in the flat by DJ Foster. A Ricky Collins completion would further drive the Argos into Ticat territory. Toronto would continue to move the ball well with two consecutive first downs on a Chandler Worthy shovel pass, and a DJ Foster run.
However, Toronto’s drive would bog down deep into the red zone once again. The essential play was a pass breakup in the end zone by JaGared Davis on a pass intended for DJ Foster. Ryan Dinwiddie would once again elect to settle for the short Boris Bede field goal. A bad omen as the game progressed.
As the first quarter came to a close, The Ticats, down only 6-0, would start to get things going on the ground with Don Jackson. A personal foul by Kony Ealy would also aid the Ticats on the drive.
The Ticats would drive into the red zone to start the second quarter. But facing a second down at Toronto’s 16, Jeremiah Masoli would fumble the football after Cordarro Law caught him scrambling in the pocket, and Chris Edwards would pick up the loose ball and advance it down the field.
The Argos would fail to capitalize on the turnover. And during the next series, Eric Rogers, who was off to a red hot start, would go down to a leg injury. Toronto would punt the football inside Hamilton’s 10-yard line.
After Masoli’s turnover on their last possession, Hamilton would turn to Dane Evans on the pivot. Evans would complete a couple of passes, but Hamilton would eventually punt the football away.
Toronto would once again march into scoring territory. Thanks to an effective completion to Juwan Brescasin and a roughing call on JaGared Davis. But the Ticats defense would stand up with a Malik Carney sack that would force the Boatmen to bring out Boris Bede for another field goal, and Bede would connect and give Toronto a 9-0 lead.
Dane Evans would lead the Ticats to midfield on his next series. But a Dexter McCoil stop on an Evans scramble on second down would halt Hamilton’s drive.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson would strike quickly on Toronto’s next possession with a pretty pump and go play to DJ Foster for 24 yards. Two more completions for first downs, one to Brescasin and then another to Kurleigh Gittens by Antonio Pipkin, would bring the Argos to Hamilton’s 25.
But the Ticats would hold after Bethel-Thompson could not connect with Brescasin on a deep shot into the end zone. Ryan Dinwiddie would unsuccessfully challenge the play for interference. Boris Bede would come on and nail his fourth field goal of the game from 33 yards to give Toronto a 12-0 lead.
With just seconds left in the half. A bizarre sequence took place in the waning moments. The Ticats avoided near disaster on a Steven Dunbar Jr. fumble that was picked up by the Argos and flipped to Shaq Richardson. Dane Evans would strip the ball away from Richardson near the sidelines to regain possession. The play would keep the score 12-0 in favor of Toronto going into the second half. Another play in the game where Toronto squandered scoring more points. Another bad omen that things weren’t going to fall Toronto’s way during this day.
Toronto would get the ball to start the second half. With Eric Rogers back in the lineup. As a light snow would begin to fall at BMO Field. The Argos offence would stall on their series after JaGared Davis would take down Bethel-Thompson for yet another Hamilton sack.
Dane Evans would remain in the game for the Ticats. Evans was 7 for 7 since coming into the second half. The Argos defence would return the favor of Hamilton’s by ending the Ticats drive with a sack of their own by Shane Ray, his first on the year.
The Ticats would force another quick two and out by Toronto. This would lead to Hamilton’s first score of the game on an electrifying 92-yard punt return for a major by Papi White. Hamilton’s Michail Domegala would miss the extra point but the momentum was on the Ticats side, as they cut the lead to 12-6.
With momentum completely on Hamilton’s side. Their defence would force another punt by Toronto.
The Ticats would immediately hit a big play to Brandon Banks for 47 yards. Evans would do so, after evading sacks in the pocket and finding Speedy B in stride.
Hamilton would face a 3rd and 2 from Toronto’s 33. They lined up to presumably attempt a 40-yard field goal but Jeff Reinebold would reach into his bag of tricks, calling a fake and converting it with a three-yard run by holder Dane Evans. On play later, Dane Evans would find Jaelon Acklin for a thirty-yard score to tie the game at 12. Hamilton would attempt a two-point conversion but the play would be stopped to keep the game tied.
The Argos would respond with a 37-yard completion by MBT to a returning Kurleigh Gittens. But Toronto would misfire on a deep shot by Thompson to Juwan Brescasin in the end zone. One of several shots, the Argos would take in the second half.
With the wind at his back, Boris Bede would come on and miss a field goal wide left from 41 yards out. The kick would sail through the end zone and net Toronto a single as consolation to give them a 13-12 lead.
A Kony Ealy sack would stop Hamilton on their next offensive series.
A shanked punt by Hamilton would be aided by a holding penalty by Toronto’s special teams.
Hamilton’s defence would flex its own muscle on Toronto’s offensive series as JaGared Davis would continue to dominate with his second registered sack of the game. The play would flip field position as Toronto punted the ball back to Hamilton to start the 4th quarter.
Dane Evans would stay red hot and perfect to start the final frame. Evans would complete two big passes into Toronto territory and then a Jackson run would drive Hamilton into the red zone.
Two plays later, Dane Evans would take the ball over the goal line a QB sneak to give Hamilton their first lead. Don Jackson would take the ball in to convert the two-point conversion to give Hamilton a seven-point lead. Evans 13/13 for 199 yards at this point.
Down 20-13. The game at this point felt like the Argos were trailing by 20. Toronto once again went two and out on offence. However, an offsides penalty on the punt and then another one by Julian Howsare on 3rd and 1, would keep Toronto’s drive alive.
The Argos would drive to Hamilton’s 40 but a botched snap on second down would lead to Toronto settling for a 47-yard field goal by Boris Bede to cut Hamilton’s lead to 20-16 with just over six minutes left.
Up 4, The Ticats would lean on their ground game to eat clock and get into Toronto territory. Looking to seal the game away, using quick passes to the outside. Hamilton would drive down to the Argos one-yard line with three minutes left in the game.
The Ticats would punch in the touchdown on a QB sneak by Evans to go up by eleven points. 27-16.
The Argos would march one last drive deep but would once again settle for a Bede field goal to cut the Tiger-Cats lead to 27-19 with just over a minute left.
But the onside kick attempt by Toronto would fail. The Argos’ inability to get in the end zone on Sunday cost them a trip to the Grey Cup. Hamilton would hang on to win 27-19, thanks to amazing play by their defence, special teams, and Dane Evans.
Eastern Final Box Score/Game Stats
FG MISSED RETURNS
|GITTENS JR., Kurleigh||4||5||74||37||18.5||36||0|
|COLLINS JR, Ricky||4||7||21||7||5.2||9||0|
FG MISSED RETURNS
|MCCOIL SR, Dexter||5||1||1||0||0||1|