REGINA – For the second straight week, Zach Collaros led a furious fourth-quarter comeback to help the Toronto Argonauts top the Saskatchewan Roughriders 31-29 on the road Saturday night.
Last week, Collaros and the Argonauts engineered a character-building second half comeback, erasing a 25-8 deficit to top the Montreal Alouettes 37-30 as they continue to battle life without Ricky Ray.
It didn’t take the Argos long to pick up where they left off and it was thanks to their defence who helped spark the comeback last week with an interception touchdown by Kiante Tripp.
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On the Riders’ first possession, Darian Durant fired a pass to an intended target but the route was jumped by newcomer DB Demetrice Morley who intercepted the pass and took it deep inside Saskatchewan territory.
The Argos would capitalize three plays later when a pass interference call on DB Prince Miller set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Collaros who added to a single point gained on their first punt of the game.
Toronto has made a habit of making opponents pay when they give up good field position; it was their 21st time this year starting an offensive possession inside the opponent’s 50 yard line and the 9th time they have come away with a major.
The Riders would get their first chance to put a touchdown up on the board when they pounced on a punt return fumble but couldn’t capitalize. In fact, they turned the ball back over to Toronto in good field position. Saskatchewan sailed a snap over kicker Ricky Schmitt’s head and the Boatmen took over at the Riders’ 34 yard line.
They would once again come away with points, kicking a 48-yard field goal to take an 11-0 first quarter lead.
An 11-point deficit was actually the least of Saskatchewan’s concern when they arrived at 5:26 left in the opening frame. The midway favourite for the league’s Most Outstanding Player, RB Kory Sheets, went down with a knee injury after absorbing a hit from linebacker Marcus Ball and had to be helped off the field. He did not return.
At halftime, head coach Corey Chamblin told TSN that the injury was suspected to be a “minor knee sprain”.
After Chris Milo hit a 33-yard field goal on the first quarter’s final play, the Riders had an opportunity to cut into the lead as the second began, after DB Weldon Brown picked off a Collaros pass.
Scrimmaging from the Argos 12 yard line, the Toronto defence came up with two big stops and forced Milo to attempt a chip shot from 22 yards out. A tumbling snap would throw of his timing and he would ping it off the right goal post. It was the first miss of Milo’s season.
The tide would start to turn shortly thereafter and it would turn in Saskatchewan’s favour.
Even without Sheets, the Riders’ offence would begin to gain their composure and Durant would engineer a 10-play, 63-yard drive that was capped off with a strike to Chris Geltzlaf for a 31-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 11-10.
On the ensuing Argos possession, backed up in their own territory, the Riders forced SB Jason Barnes to put the ball on the ground and a recovery would lead to a 19-yard Milo field goal.
Both sides of the ball for the Riders would team up to seize momentum from Toronto on the very next Argos drive.
Tyron Brackenridge put a huge hit on Toronto running back Chad Kackert, forcing him to drop the ball and another turnover was forced by Saskatchewan.
|Sheets leaves early|
The mid-season favourite for league’s Most Outstanding Player, RB Kory Sheets, went down with a knee injury after absorbing a hit from linebacker Marcus Ball and had to be helped off the field. He did not return.
Kackert had just returned from a knee injury suffered in Week 4 and didn’t return to the game following the hit.
Durant went back to work just inside Toronto’s side of half and promptly found Rob Bagg down the seam for a 47-yard score and a 20-11 lead.
The Argos would add a single but would head to the locker room at halftime down 20-12.
As the second half began, the motto for the Roughriders was ‘no Sheets, no problem’.
They would lean on veteran back Neal Hughes to carry the load in Sheets’ absence. On Saskatchewan’s first possession, Durant would dump the ball off to the former Regina Ram who would rumble 42 yards to set up a 10-yard Milo field goal.
In a game where momentum swung back and forth, the Argos took it back as the fourth quarter began.
First, Collaros led an 8-play, 65-yard drive to set up a Swayze Waters field goal in his return since leaving Week 1 with a hamstring injury.
Then the young pivot led his most impressive possession of the game. He and the Argos marched 89 yards on 8-plays, with John Chiles hauling in his seventh touchdown of the game, a 15-yarder. The two connected on a two-point conversion and just like that, the game was tied at 23.
Durant and the Riders then took the field but the Argonauts defence quickly snatched possession back. Durant stepped up in a collapsing pocket and threw a ball that was picked off by Argos DB Alonzo Lawrence who returned it to midfield.
A few plays later, the Argos struck again. First, Collaros found Chiles for a leaping 29-yard catch. After pass interference was called on the Riders, the Collaros handed it off to Jerious Norwood who leaped over the goal line to take back the lead 30-23.
Norwood was playing in his second game and entered as the primary tailback after Kackert went down.
The Boatmen would get the ball back with just over two minutes remaining and Norwood would begin to truck through the Riders defence while killing clock in the process. The bruising back ran 6 times for 48 yards to set up a Waters field goal from 32 yards out. He would sail it wide right however for a single point, giving the Riders one last shot.
Durant would move the ball quickly, finding Getzlaf fro 45 yards before the two connected for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
The two-point conversion with 14 seconds left failed as the Argos sacked Durant and an onside kick recovery would seal the 31-29 comeback win.
Next week the Argos continue their road trip in Calgary while the Riders host the BC Lions.