HAMILTON — Chad Kelly threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Toronto Argonauts earned a 41-28 Labour Day victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on a hot, muggy Monday afternoon.
Kelly finished 15-of-23 passing for 201 yards and two interceptions in his first Labour Day start for Toronto (9-1). Kelly also ran three times for 27 yards and the TD.
It was also Kelly's first contest after signing a three-year, $1.865-million extension Thursday that made him the CFL's highest-paid player.
And he capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive with a two-yard TD run at 3:58 of the fourth that put Toronto ahead 31-13. By then, many of a sellout Tim Hortons Field gathering of 25,381 — a Ticats home-game record — had left.
Hamilton (4-7) countered with Taylor Powell's four-yard touchdown pass, and then the two-point convert to Tim White at 9:42 that cut Toronto's lead to 31-21.
But A.J. Ouellette's 26-yard TD pass to Dejon Brissett at 11:29 gave Toronto a 38-21 advantage. Boris Bede's 27-yard field goal at 13:14 was set up by Folarin Orimolade's fumble recovery.
Powell rounded out the scoring with a two-yard touchdown pass to Terry Godwin II at 14:49.
Hamilton leads the series 36-15-1 but Toronto has won the last two rivalry matchups.
Toronto also earned its third win in as many meetings with Hamilton to cement the season series and retain the Harold E. Ballard Trophy. The two teams meet again Sept. 23 at BMO Field.
Hamilton is 1-5 this season at home and has lost four straight there by 10-plus points for the first time since 2006.
The contest was played in brutal heat. The game-time temperature was 33 C but the heat index was listed at 42 C.
Powell completed 30-of-42 passes for 296 yards with three TDs, an interception and lost fumble. White had eight catches for 110 yards.
Andrew Harris, DaVaris Daniels and Damonte Coxie had Toronto's other touchdowns. Bede booted two field goals, a single and four converts.
Godwin had two TDs for Hamilton. Marc Liegghio kicked two field goals, a convert and single.
Liegghioi's 37-yard boot at 14:57 of the third cut Toronto's lead to 24-13.
Kelly connected on a seven-yard touchdown pass to Coxie at 13:01 to go ahead 24-10, but the convert was wide. The score capped a smart eight-play, 82-yard march.
Bede's 65-yard punt single at 7:10 moved Toronto ahead 18-10.
Hamilton opened the second half with Powell's 17-yard TD pass to Godwin at 4:51 of the third to pull to within 17-10. It capped a nine-play, 55-yard drive but Butler's run for the two-point convert was short.
Liegghio hit from 37 yards out at 14:32 of the second to cut Toronto's halftime lead to 17-4. He missed from 57 yards out at 7:58 that went for a single.
Hamilton had more first downs (eight to seven), offensive plays (32 to 23) and offensive yards (146 to 143) than Toronto in the first half. But the Argos did all of their first-half damage offensively in the opening quarter.
One play following Jamal Peters's interception, Kelly found Daniels on a 31-yard TD strike at 12:42 to put Toronto ahead 17-0.
Harris's two-yard TD run at 10:49 pushed Toronto's lead to 10-0 at 10:49. It followed Javon Leake's 31-yard punt return and Kurleigh Gittens Jr.'s 21-yard run.
Bede opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal at 3:47.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 4, 2023.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press