The visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats throttled the Toronto Argonauts 64-14 on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.
Hamilton was utterly dominant in the game, topping the Argos 600 to 322 in yardage and winning the turnover battle four to two.
The 50-point victory margin tied a franchise record for the Ti-Cats, set against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1999.
“We just got beat in all three phases today, special teams, offence and defence,” said running back James Wilder Jr. after the game. “We just gotta get back in the lab and stop [taking] this loss as an L and start using this loss as a lesson.”
Jeremiah Masoli was strong for the Tiger-Cats (2-0), completing 23 of his 31 pass attempts for 338 yards and three touchdowns, also adding a rushing touchdown in just over three quarters of game action.
He was removed at the beginning of the fourth with the game in hand.
Bralon Addison caught six passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns for the Cats, and Sean Thomas-Erlington gained 165 yards on 15 offensive touches.
The Argonauts (0-1) attempted to return to their Grey Cup winning form of 2017 under new head coach Corey Chamblin, but were outplayed on every front.
“I tell the guys every day, it takes all of us, and that starts with me,” said Chamblin, in his post-game press conference. “A loss like that, you can look across the board – there’s a lot of different things that need to be cleaned up.
“We know exactly what we have to do to continue to move forward: we have to protect the quarterback up front, we have to be in better shape and we have to catch the balls. We gotta protect the ball in all three phases.”
James Franklin, in his first opening-day start of his career, was decent at quarterback, completing 16 of 26 pass attempts for 211 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.
“It’s the first game of the season, a lot of frustration, a lot of mistakes,” said Franklin. “You can’t really lose faith after the first game – take a loss at the start of the season and you try to learn from it, try to remember that you still have a chance.”
Franklin was benched at the beginning of the fourth quarter with the score 48-6 for Hamilton. He and Mcleod Bethel-Thompson were billed as ‘1A and 1B’ entering the season on the depth chart.
Armanti Edwards registered the lone touchdown for the Argonauts in the beatdown, on a late throw by Bethel-Thompson. He walked off the field before the game was over in a game he caught four passes for 73 yards with the touchdown.
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“It was just hard, I let my emotions get the best of me,” said Edwards afterwards. “It won’t happen again, losing like this.”
Injuries factored in heavily for Toronto in their season opener, the scariest of all being an apparent head or neck injury suffered by defensive back Jermaine Gabriel while attempting to stop a touchdown.
He lay on the field for minutes before slowly walking off towards the locker room. Six players left the game due to injury, four of which did not return.
“I don’t think anything is serious but the one I was worried about the most was Jermaine Gabriel but I think he’ll be alright,” said Chamblin, referring to the many injuries his team sustained.
The Argos managed to put together 310 yards through the air on the day, but struggled mightily on the ground. They logged only six official running plays, going for 12 yards.
For the Tiger-Cats, the attack was unrelenting. They put up 20 points in the first half, 21 in the third quarter and 23 in the fourth. Lirim Hajrallahu kicked a 56-yard field goal in the second quarter, which is a new career high.
Hamilton scored an interception touchdown on a dropped pass, a kick return touchdown on a missed field goal, and six offensive touchdowns in a game they thoroughly dominated.
There were 16,734 fans in attendance, although most had already made their way to the exit when Edwards caught the only touchdown of the game for the Argos with 1:24 remaining in the final quarter.
Toronto is back in action next Monday on Canada Day, against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (0-2) in Regina. Hamilton returns to action at home next Friday against the Montreal Alouettes (0-1).