Toronto (CFL.ca) - DeAndra Cobb and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats beat the Toronto Argonauts at their own game Friday night.
Cobb's six-yard TD run with under four minutes remaining rallied the Ticats to a stunning 16-12 win over the Argos before a season-high 24,493 spectators at Rogers Centre. Cobb's scamper highlighted a 13-point fourth quarter to earn Hamilton (4-4) a most improbable win.
Toronto (5-3) has been the master of fourth-quarter comebacks this season, rallying from fourth-quarter deficits to earn wins in four games thus far.
"There were key times when he made yards on his own," Ticats head coach Bellefeuille said of Cobb, who ran for a season-high 99 yards on 20 carries.
"You've just got to try to win some of these gritty games. Toronto has been the recipient of these wins, you know, early in the season."
The win was Hamilton's first this season against a team other than Winnipeg. It was gift-wrapped by a Toronto team that was flagged 10 times for 115 yards and had three turnovers, including a crucial lost fumble by Ryan Christian on a kickoff the Ticats recovered at the Argos' 22-yard line, setting up Cobb's game-winning run.
"All the things we've done well to this point we didn't do well," said Argos head coach Jim Barker. "When you have penalties and turnovers you're not going to win football games against good teams.
"Hamilton came in here to our place and outplayed us and deserved to win."
To add insult to injury, Toronto's Lin-J Shell was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct following Cobb's touchdown. He reportedly spit in the face of a Ticats' player, a contention Shell denied following the game.
"He spit in our player's face," Bellefeuille said. "I don't know which player it was, but that's how it was explained to me ... those are the types of things that happen in a game."
Barker said Shell isn't the type of player to resort to such tactics.
"That's totally not his character," Barker said. "He probably shouldn't have been talking to the player.
"We take full responsibility for all the penalties that were called against us."
One of Toronto's penalties was a delay of game call against Barker in the fourth for challenging the spot on a second-down completion, which is illegal. The Argos tried a 48-yard field goal on the next play, but it was blocked by Hamilton's Jason Shivers after holder Kevin Eiben bobbled the snap, forcing a low kick from Grant Shaw to preserve the home team's 12-3 lead.
"In my mind it was," Barker said when asked if that was the game's turning point. "You can put it on me.
"A half-yard is a big difference and I felt I could challenge the spot. We had this officiating crew before and I felt some of their spots were poor and felt that one was worth it. I take full responsibility."
Still, Toronto nearly pulled the win out as Chad Owens had a 37-yard punt return before being upended in the open field on the game's final play.
But the Argos fell to second in the East Division with a lacklustre performance following last week's stellar victory over Montreal. Toronto opened the game with a bang but had nothing to show for it.
After Hamilton stalled on its opening possession, Owens returned a punt 78 yards for the touchdown, only to have it come back due to a holding penalty. Then on Toronto's first play from scrimmage, Andre Durie had a 61-yard run called back because of another holding penalty.
The two penalties cost Toronto 139 total yards and a TD.
"Of course those hurt you," Barker lamented.
Argos starter Cleo Lemon was 18-of-38 passing for 208 yards while Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn finished 25-of-38 for 247 yards and an interception.
Cory Boyd ran for 81 yards on 15 carries to boast his league-leading total to 792 yards but said the Argos were their own worst enemy.
"We didn't execute as an offence, we shot ourselves in the foot," he said. "We let them back into the game."
Hamilton stole the win after playing three uninspired quarters offensively. But that will only serve to add intrigue when the two teams meet again Labour Day at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Hamilton and Toronto met a night after the Buffalo Bills beat the Indianapolis Colts 34-21 in an NFL exhibition game at Rogers Centre. More than 39,000 spectators took in the contest, which began with the typical sizzle and glitz of the NFL with loud music and lavish fireworks and seemingly endless replays of the Bills fight song.
The fans, many of whom wore the colours of their favourite NFL teams, were boisterous and supportive for much of the first half when both teams played their starters.
But once the stars like Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Bills tailback C.J. Spiller left the contest, so too did much of the atmosphere and buzz. In pre-season, the top priority is evaluation and not necessarily earning the victory.
But with the CFL contest being in the regular season between heated rivals, the crowd was more vocal and into it for much longer than the previous night. And although smaller than the NFL gathering, this crowd was much louder and more into the play, reacting to each heavy hit, big run or catch and defensive stop.
There were also chants of "Bruuuccce," every time Ticats receiver Arland Bruce, a former Argo, touched the ball. And when an interview with Toronto special-teams coach Mike O'Shea, a former Ticat, aired on the Jumbotron, it was met with the usual chorus of boos from Hamilton supporters.
Shaw had three field goals and a single for Toronto. The other points came on a safety.
Sandro DeAngelis booted three field goals and a convert for Hamilton.