Burris leads Hamilton into Grey Cup
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Henry Burris threw three touchdown passes to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a 36-24 win over the Toronto Argonauts in the East Division Final of the 101st Grey Cup Playoffs.
Burris completed 27-of-40 passes for 371 yards and an interception and also ran for 51 yards on five carries for the Tiger-Cats, who return to the Grey Cup for the first time since they defeated Calgary, 32-21, in 1999.
"I still have to have someone pinch me. I have been through so much in the past four years," said Burris. "I've had an organization tell me I couldn't play anymore. This year, everyone said we couldn't do it. We didn't have a home (stadium), but here we are."
Andy Fantuz caught 11 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns and Greg Ellingson added a receiving score for Hamilton.
The Tiger-Cats will face Saskatchewan next Sunday. The Roughriders beat Calgary 35-13 in the West Final.
Hamilton was outscored 69-20 in two losses to Saskatchewan earlier this season.
Ricky Ray completed 22-of-32 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns and Zach Collaros added a rushing score for the Argonauts, who won the Grey Cup last season.
Andre Durie caught three passes for 115 yards and Spencer Watt caught a pair of touchdown passes in the setback.
The Tiger-Cats trailed 24-10 late in the first half, but scored 26 unanswered points.
"I thought the turning point was in the second quarter. We had a nice lead and had the game where we wanted it," said Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich. "Good teams are always able to come back. They scored late (in the first half), and scored at the start of the second half. We let them back in and they took advantage of it."
Burris found Fantuz in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 24-17 at the break.
Hamilton wasted no time and scored just over four minutes into the second half when Burris connected with Ellingson for a 14-yard TD completion to tie things up.
Luca Congi split the uprights from 23 yards out as time expired in the third to put the Tiger-Cats on top 27-24.
The Hamilton defense came up with several big stops throughout the fourth quarter and Congi connected from 21 yards out with 1:24 remaining to make it 30-24.
The Argonauts had one last chance to tie the game late in the fourth, but Ray's pass on 3rd-and-long with 58 seconds to go fell incomplete and the Tiger-Cats took over.
Toronto held the Tiger-Cats on 2nd-and-long and were forced to punt it back to the Argonauts, but Marc Beswick forced a fumble and rolled over on the ball in the end zone as time expired to seal the win.
"At halftime our guys didn't flinch. We have been resilient all year. We executed and kept their offense off the field," said Hamilton head coach George Cortez.
After Durie fumbled the opening kickoff, the Ti-Cats got on the board with Congi's 16-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead just 4:24 into the game.
Ray and the Argos answered right back with a 64-yard touchdown drive. On 2nd- and-3rd from the Hamilton 8-yard line, Ray found Watt in the end zone for the score.
Burris' 7-yard touchdown pass to Fantuz gave Hamilton a 10-7 lead with just 49 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Ray went back to Watt for his second touchdown of the game to put the Argos back in front 14-10. On the first play of the drive, Ray connected with Durie for a 40-yard catch-and-run. Three plays later, Ray found Watt for a 29-yard TD strike.
Collaros added a 1-yard touchdown plunge six minutes later for a 21-10 edge. Durie had a 59-yard reception down to the one to set up Collaros' score a play earlier.
Jermaine Gabriel intercepted Burris on the ensuing possession and Swayze Waters made it a 24-10 game with his 28-yard field goal with 2:40 to play in the first half.
Hamilton has appeared in the Grey Cup 29 times. They took home the hardware 15 of those times ... The Tiger-Cats picked up 30 first downs while holding Toronto to just 15 ... Hamilton went 2-1 against the Argonauts in the regular season ... Toronto gained just 13 yards rushing ... Toronto's Aaron Maybin recorded his first CFL sack.
11/17 19:51:06 ET