HAMILTON - Lirim Hajrullahu's 40-yard yard field goal with two seconds remaining earned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a 21-18 home win over the Toronto Argonauts in the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday night.
Hajrullahu's boot capped an eight-play, 40-yard march orchestrated by David Watford. More importantly, it ensured Hamilton (15-3) finished the regular season with five straight victories and unbeaten at home (9-0), thrilling the Tim Hortons Field gathering of 22,804.
Hamilton also swept the three-game series with Toronto. And Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer tied Dave Dickenson's CFL record for most wins by a first-head coach of 15 set in 2014 with Calgary.
But the dramatic kick capped a game that felt - and often looked - like a pre-season contest as both teams didn't dress most of their starters. Hamilton (15-3) had already clinched first in the East Division, and home field for the conference final Nov. 17, while Toronto (4-14) was eliminated from post-season contention a while ago.
Punter Ronnie Pfeffer, not kicker Zach Medeiros, had a chance to put Toronto ahead but missed a 22-yard field goal that went for a single to tie the score 18-18 at 12:38. Hajrullahu's 57-yard single at 8:57 of the fourth put Hamilton ahead 18-17.
Hamilton rookie Hayden Moore was 18-of-28 passing for 218 yards in his first CFL start with four interceptions - two more were nullified by penalty. Two of the legal picks came in Toronto's endzone, halting potential Ticats scoring drives.
Watford was 5-of-8 passing for 74 yards. Hamilton's Cam Marshall ran for 109 yards and two TDs.
Third-year pro Dakota Prukop started for Toronto, completing 4-of-9 passes for 118 yards and a TD in the first half before giving way to Canadian rookie Michael O'Connor to start the third. O'Conner was 10-of-16 passing for 112 yards.
Toronto's Armanti Edwards had four catches for 62 yards to crack the 1,000-yard plateau (1,014) for the first time.
Hajrullahu booted two converts and two field goals.
Rodney Smith and Shaq Richardson had Toronto's touchdowns. Medieros added a convert, field goal and single.
The teams were tied 17-17 at the half. Medieros missed a 29-yard field goal for the single at 12:47 of the second to make 17-17 after his successful 42-yard boot at 11:06 had pulled Toronto to within 17-16.
Hamilton got possession at the Toronto 45-yard line with three seconds left but settled for Moore's 17-yard completion to Jones rather than try the field goal.
It was a roller-coaster half for Moore, who finished 12-of-19 passing for 131 yards with two interceptions. He had another erased by a Toronto penalty.
Marshall capped an eight-play, 70-yard march with an 11-yard TD run at 8:00 to put Hamilton up 17-13. Prukop's 75-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Smith gave Toronto a 13-10 lead at 4:01.
It came after Hajrullahu's 28-yard field goal put Hamilton ahead 10-6 at 3:45. That was set up by Justin Tuggle's recovery of Qudarius Ford's fumble on Hajrullahu's 21-yard onside punt at the Toronto 20-yard line.
It was an inauspicious debut by Moore, whose first CFL pass was intercepted by Richardson and returned for the TD just 3:36 into the first. Medeiros missed the convert.
But Richard's illegal contact penalty nullified an Alden Darby interception in Toronto's endzone. That put Hamilton on the Argos' five-yard line and Marshall ran in from there at 13:11 to give the Ticats a 7-6 advantage.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2019.