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TORONTO — Ricky Ray was spot on, throwing for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Toronto Argonauts held the Saskatchewan Roughriders in check to the tune of 48-15 Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Running back Curtis Steele notched a pair of touchdowns in the victory as well.
Ray finished 29 of 27 for 407 yards and the four majors. He did not throw an interception.
Criticized for their performance last week in Winnipeg, the Argonauts defence was buzzing all afternoon long, getting to Riders pivot Darian Durant five times and getting a late score of their own on a 108-yard interception return touchdown.
Both teams had quick first possessions to start the game with the defences having the upper hand making the offences go two-and-out to begin the game.
To start the Argonauts second drive, Ray found third overall pick in the 2014 CFL Draft, Anthony Coombs for his first career reception, for 16-yards and more importantly a first down.
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After Saskatchewan’s 10-sack performance a week earlier against Hamilton, Ray found himself feeling the pressure but escaped as the pocket collapsed and gained nine-yards on the scamper. The next play, Ray found John Chiles breaking away from Tyron Brackenridge and Chiles made a highlight reel one-handed catch, to put the Argos on the Riders 10 yard line. This set up a Curtis Steele one-yard touchdown run to give the Argos the opening lead 7-0.
Durant and the Riders began their next possession on their own 31 yard line. Saskatchewan began to drive the ball after a 19-yard rush by Anthony Allen and a 16-yard reception by Eron Riley to put the Riders in Argo territory.
With the Riders looking to put up a major, Durant found newcomer, Brett Swain in one-on-one with Antwuan Molden, where Molden made an athletic diving play to intercept the ball and put an end to the Riders drive.
With the first quarter dwindling, the Argos started their fourth drive on their own nine yard line. After a 34-yard run by Andre Durie, Ray found Owens for an initially short pass, but Owens was able to convert it to a 49-yard reception that set up the Argos on the Riders 12 yard line.
The Riders defences were able to stop the Argos from scoring a major, settling for a 19 yard field-goal by Swayze Waters to expand the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter.
The Riders were looking to answer after the Argos field goal, however their drive only lasted two plays after Argos defensive lineman Tristan Okpalaugo recovered a Anthony Allen fumble.
Carrying the momentum from the defensive turnover, the Argos looked to the Ray-Owens connection once again. After Ray found Chiles for a first down, Ray found Owens for a 21-yard gain and then capped it with a 14-yard touchdown for Owens, to increase the Argos lead to 17 points.
Saskatchewan looking to put some points on the board prior to the half, put themselves in position to score after three straight first downs via Neal Hughes rush, Taj Smith and Swain receptions to put them in Argo territory. The Riders had to settle for a for a 35-yard Chris Milo field-goal attempt, which he missed wide left, and the Argos conceded the single point to bring the score to 17-1.
The Argos went into the dressing room holding a 17-1 lead.
Ricky Ray finished the half with 285 passing yards and a touchdown, while Ray’s favourite target, Chad Owens, finished the half with five receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown in the opening thirty minutes.
To bring the second half to a start, the Riders received the ball. Anthony Allen opened with a short three yard rush and on second down caught a five yard reception which wasn’t enough to get a new set of downs.
After a great punt that pinned the Argos on their own 15-yardline, the Argos had a ton of field ahead of them to cover. The halftime break didn’t seem to alter the Argos offence at all. Ray continued his efficiency from the first half. After finding Barnes for a first down and a Riders penalty for roughing the passer, Ray handed it off to Coombs who went for 28 yard gain. Ray then found Owens twice in a row and capped off the 8-play 95 yard drive with a 14-yard Barnes touchdown catch to extend the lead to 24-1.
The Argos continued to tack on points even with the Rider finding a way to slow down Ray and the Argos offence. After a Tearrius George sack ended the Argos drive, Waters calmly punted a 47-yard single to give increase the Argos lead, 25-1.
Durant found some success in the Riders’ third drive of the second half. They were able to show their offence is still potent and can attack quickly during their third drive. Durant found some time and ran out of the pocket for a 16-yard gain and the following play he found Smtih for a 59-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 25-8 and give the Riders a pulse.
The Riders’ defence began to tighten up and forced the Argos to punt the ball after a quick two-and-out.
Just like their last drive, Saskatchewan once again showed their big play ability. Durant found Ryan Smith for 39-yard reception then a Rob Bagg reception put the Riders on the Argos nine-yard line in two plays. The drive ended one play after, when Durant found Allen open and ran in untouched for the major.
The score heading into the final quarter was 25-15 for the Argos.
With Shea Emry out of the game (suspected head injury) and the Riders finding success offensively, Ray and the Argos began feeling the pressure to add some insurance points. After finding Owens twice for first downs, the Argos drive stalled but settled for a Waters 40-yard field-goal to increase the lead to 13 points, 28-15.
Showing off their big play ability in their past two drives, the Riders looked poised to continue the recent trend. Durant found Riley and Allen, each for first downs and in Argos side of the field, but on second down, Jalil Carter was able to get to Durant and force the Riders into a punting situation.
On the ensuing punt, Owens was able to find a seam and return the punt 45-yards, as the offence began the drive on the Saskatchewan 49 yard line.
Ray not known for his running ability was able to extend the drive twice from his running. He finished the drive by finding receiver Mike Bradwell for his third touchdown pass in the game. The Argos went for a two point conversion, but were unable to convert. Argos lead expanded, 34-15.
Argos showed off their quick offence next. The Argos covered 42 yards on three plays, which ended with Steele finding the end zone for the second time on the afternoon with a 16-yards rush. The Argos increased the lead to 41-15.
Needing points and quickly, Durant let the Riders down deep into Argos territory and looking to score until Molden intercepted his second pass of the game and returned it 108-yards for a touchdown, the second longest interception in Argos regular season history.
The Boatmen remain at home next week to host the Calgary Stampeders while the Riders regroup to take on the rival BC Lions.