HAMILTON — Frankie Williams returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown and Dane Evans threw two TD strikes to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats past the Toronto Argonauts 33-19 on Monday.
Williams broke the game open at 7:41 of the third quarter to stake Hamilton to a 17-4 advantage. Williams was the CFL's top special-teams player in 2019.
Evans put Hamilton ahead 25-4 at 12:40, first with a 57-yard TD pass to Tim White. Evans then found Jaelon Acklin for the two-point convert.
Toronto made it interesting when Nick Arbuckle found Eric Rogers on a 12-yard TD pass at 7:56. After hitting the convert, Boris Bede booted an 80-yard single off the kickoff at 8:12 that cut Hamilton's lead to 26-12.
But a terrific 58-yard punt by Joel Whitford, which wasn't returned, put Toronto on its own 11-yard line with roughly 5:30 to play. Simoni Lawrence corralled a Jovan Santos-Knox deflection and returned the interception three yards for the TD at 10:12 to give Hamilton a 32-12 advantage.
Evans finished 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two TDs. Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards and a touchdown but two interceptions before being replaced by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Bethel-Thompson had an eight-yard TD pass to Rogers late in the fourth.
Hamilton (2-2) earned its second straight victory to move into a tie with Montreal (2-2) and Toronto atop the East Division standings. More importantly, the Ticats continued their Labour Day dominance of the Argos with a seventh straight victory and ninth in 10 contests to improve to 36-13-1 all-time.
Hamilton hasn't lost on Labour Day at Tim Hortons Field (7-0). And the Ticats gave a sun-drenched gathering of 15,000 _ the most allowed under Ontario government protocols _ plenty to cheer about against their arch rivals.
It was the first football game here since Hamilton's 36-16 win over Edmonton in the East Division final Nov. 18, 2019, a span of 659 days. The CFL didn't play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and returned in 2021 with a condensed 14-game schedule, four less than normal.
Monday's contest was the first of four this year between Hamilton and Toronto. The two teams square off again Friday at BMO Field, then meet Oct. 11 at Tim Hortons Field.
The regular-season finale is slated for Nov. 12 in Toronto.
Evans made his second straight Labour Day start. He threw for 442 yards and two TDs and ran for another in leading Hamilton to a 38-27 victory in 2019.
Evans guided Hamilton to its first win of the year, a 27-10 road decision over Montreal on Aug. 27. He completed 15-of-22 passes for 183 yards and two TDs in his first start of the season.
David Ungerer III had Hamilton's other touchdown. Michael Domagala booted a field goal and three converts while Whitford added a single.
Bede also had a field goal and two converts.
Evans took Hamilton to its 10-4 half-time lead. He hit Ungerer III with a 23-yard TD strike at 5:25 of the second to give the Ticats a 10-3 advantage.
Bede made it a six-point deficit with a 47-yard punt single at 13:07.
Evans was 11-of-18 passing for 133 yards while Arbuckle completed 11-of-15 attempts for 125 yard with an interception.
Hamilton opened the scoring with Domagala's 13-yard field goal at 5:39 of the first to cap a 12-play, 78-yard drive. Bede's 32-yard field goal at 1:17of the second made it 3-3 and culminated an 11-play, 67-yard march.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 6, 2021
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press