Toronto Argonauts earn first in East Division with 31-12 win over Hamilton Tiger-Cats
TORONTO – Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and the Toronto Argonauts will carry home-field advantage into the CFL playoffs.
Gittens, Antonio Pipkin and Chris Edwards scored touchdowns as Toronto defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 31-12 on a windy Friday night to cement top spot in the East Division. That secured the Argos (9-4) home-field advantage for the East Division final Dec. 5 and that’s a big deal considering they’re 6-0 at BMO Field this year.
“It’s home, who doesn’t like home,” Gittens Jr. said. “For us it’s a pleasure to play in front of our fans.
“We just try to come out every home game and put on a show for these guys, they deserve it. Every chance we get to play at home we expect to play well.”
Toronto played before a season-high gathering of 10,851 Friday night that braved a steady wind throughout and rain in the opening half. The Argos gave them plenty to cheer about, earning a third straight win and finishing the regular season 3-1 versus archrival Hamilton (7-6).
Toronto completes its regular season Tuesday night hosting the Edmonton Elks (2-9). The Argos will return 19 days later to face either Hamilton or the Montreal Alouettes for a berth in the Grey Cup game Dec. 12 at Tim Hortons Field.
Gittens registered seven receptions for 72 yards – both team-highs – as Toronto’s offence held the ball for over 33 minutes. Starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson finished 26-of-34 passing for 250 yards with a TD and interception.
Gittens felt Friday’s performance was the Toronto offence’s most complete this season.
“I think we played as a whole as an offence,” he said. “We really played together.”
Argos rookie head coach Ryan Dinwiddie went a step further in assessing his team.
“This is (the) best performance we’ve had all year and I think it was just our focus,” he said. “I felt good about this game going into it just because of the work week, guys were dialed in.
“We’re not happy. We’ve got to be better but I thought it was a pretty solid outing by our guys.”
Hamilton suffered its first loss in four games and finishes its regular season next Saturday hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-4). And that could be a monumental game for the Ticats depending on how third-place Montreal (6-6) fares against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-1) on Saturday.
Montreal completes its regular season next Friday by hosting the Ottawa Redblacks (2-11).
Hamilton and Montreal split their season series 1-1 but the Ticats own the tiebreaker based upon point differential. So they’d finish ahead of the Alouettes if the two teams ended up tied in the standings.
Dinwiddie wouldn’t be surprised if Toronto faced Hamilton again in the playoffs.
“Well, they’ve been the best team in the East the last few years and I think there’s a reason why,” he said. “They’re a darn good football team, so is Montreal (and) we’ll see how that plays out.
“You never know in the playoffs but they’re a darn good team … so we’re probably going to see them again.”