THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO -- They've booked their spot in the CFL playoffs but Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan Roughriders have their eyes on a bigger prize — top spot in the West Division.
Durant threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as Saskatchewan clinched a post-season berth with a 27-16 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday afternoon.
Saskatchewan (9-4) earned its fifth straight win over Toronto to remain second in the West Division standings, just two points behind front-running Calgary (11-3). The two teams will square off Oct. 17 at Mosaic Stadium.
But first and foremost on Durant's mind is the return engagement with Toronto next weekend in Regina.
"In order to get first place, we're going to have to earn it, we're going to have to beat Calgary," Durant said. "But these are the games we can't let slip.
"We have to take care of business right here and now. We'll worry about first place when it's time."
Toronto (6-7) remains tied for second in the East with Hamilton (6-6), which faces Edmonton (3-9) at Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday. The Argos have lost two straight and five of their last six and haven't scored more than 17 points in a game since beating Montreal 37-22 on Aug. 14.
Argos head coach Jim Barker said having to face the 'Riders in Regina could define his young squad. Dalton Bell will make his second straight start in that game for the Argos.
"It will be a good test for us," Barker said. "Will we go in strong or wilt?''
Durant was outstanding, finishing 29-of-37 passing for 311 yards while adding 47 yards rushing. More importantly, the 'Riders had no turnovers while forcing Toronto to cough up the ball twice.
Durant cemented the victory with a 66-yard TD strike to Andy Fantuz just 2:03 into the second half, giving the Riders a 24-13 lead. The catch, before a Rogers Centre gathering of 23,873, also vaulted Fantuz over the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for the first time in his five-year CFL career.
"In front of my family and friends, it's special," the Chatham, Ont., native said of the milestone. "It's fun to play in front of everybody because I don't get to seem them that often so it's kind of like a little reunion.
"But most important is getting the win.''
The loss tarnished the debut by Bell, who replaced the injured Cleo Lemon (concussion) to make his first-ever pro start. Bell, traded to the Argos in the off-season by Saskatchewan, did a nice job of managing the game in the first half but only mustered 153 passing yards and lost a key fumble in the fourth after being sacked by Saskatchewan's Keith Shologan.
Marcus Adams recovered and rumbled five yards to the Toronto 22. That set up Luca Congi's 22-yard field goal at 9:00 that put the Riders ahead 27-16.
"We moved the ball well but we have to limit our turnovers on offence," Bell said. "(My lost fumble) was big . . . I didn't see (Shologan) at all.''
Barker said Bell's performance was a tale of two halves.
"He did fine early in the game," he said. "In the second half he made some decisions that weren't good but that's part of his learning process.''
Bell was also the beneficiary of the return of tailback Cory Boyd, who missed two games with a concussion. Boyd ran for 145 yards — his fifth 100-yard game of the year — to boost his season total to 1,048 yards and regain the CFL rushing lead.
"Cory is a huge difference," Barker said. "Any time he touches the ball anything can happen.
"He's a spectacular player who leaves his heart on the field.''
Boyd says the Argos are proving to be their own worst enemy.
"Lately we've hit a few bumps but once we learn to stop making mistakes we'll be better," Boyd said. "We have to not hurt ourselves.
"It's not the other team, it's ourselves holding us back."
Saskatchewan did a better job of containing Boyd in the second half, holding him to 47 yards on nine carries.
"We wanted to stop Boyd in the second half . . . and when you do that you force Dalton into second and long," Roughriders coach Ken Miller said. "He had to look around at five receivers and we were able to play more coverage then so he had to throw the ball underneath."
Toronto's Justin Medlock added a convert and three field goals.
Chris Getzlaf had Saskatchewan's other touchdown. Congi booted two field goals and three converts.
Durant had a terrific first half, completing 19-of-21 passes for 182 yards. After scoring on a 10-yard run in the first, Durant capped his impressive opening half with a 16-yard TD strike to Getzlaf at 13:08 of the second to stake Saskatchewan to a 17-13 half-time lead.
But the combination of Bell and Boyd proved to be a formidable one for Toronto. Bell was solid in taking what Saskatchewan's defence gave him, completing 7-of-10 passes for 64 yards while running twice for 20 yards, including a 12-yard TD run on the Argos' first offensive possession.
Boyd ran for 98 yards on 11 carries, surpassing the 1,000-yard plateau in just his 11th game of the season. Boyd's biggest play was a 49-yard run on a third-and-one gamble in the first that set up Bell's TD.
After Getzlaf's TD put Saskatchewan ahead 17-10, Bell engineered a nice seven-play, 59-yard drive that culminated with Medlock's 15-yard field goal on the half's final play.
Notes:Saskatchewan is the CFL's lone unbeaten team at home, sporting a perfect 6-0 record at Mosaic Stadium ... Toronto has a tough finish to its regular season as five of its final six opponents are .500 or better ... The Roughriders' roster features nine players who were born and raised in Saskatchewan. They include: offensive linemen Nick Hutchins, Dan Clark and Gene Makowsky, receivers Jason Clermont, Jordan Sisco and Getzlaf, defensive back Tamon George and running backs Neal Hughes and Stu Foord ... Rookie Danny Brannagan, of Burlington, Ont., dressed as Toronto's third quarterback, becoming just the fourth Canadian-born quarterback to suit up for the Argos since 1950.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|