TORONTO -- Ricky Ray was nearly perfect once again, completing 30 of 35 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns, as the Toronto Argonauts downed the Edmonton Eskimos 36-33 on Sunday night at Rogers Centre.
The matchup was a true quarterbacks clinic, as Ray's counterpart Mike Reilly was good on 35 of his 46 passes for a whopping 511 yards and three touchdowns of his own.
Reilly, Ray and Argos backup Zach Collaros combined for 969 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The game marked the beginning of a three-game home stand for the Argonauts, one that will see them host the Stampeders next week and then the Alouettes one week later.
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After sitting out the second half of their Week 7 battle against the Alouettes because of a nagging lower-body injury, Ray was back under centre for the Boatmen and took little time to make his presence felt.
Starting from their own 31-yard line, Ray completed three-straight passes to Chad Owens, Mike Bradwell and then Owens again, the latter of which went for nine yards, setting up a second-and-short-situation.
Following a failed QB sneak attempt by Collaros and the jumbo unit, the Argos opted to gamble and keep the offence on the field for third down.
The decision paid off for the Double Blue as Collaros booted out to the strong side and hooked up with fullback Alexander Robinson for a 45-yard catch-and-run major.
Robinson’s second touchdown of the season marked the second-straight game in which the Argos scored on their opening possession.
Edmonton would reply on their ensuing drive, courtesy of a 16-yard field goal by kicker Grant Shaw.
On the drive, Esks pivot Mike Reilly was solid, completing all four of his passes including a 31-yard strike to Marcus Henry.
Reilly, who has been facing some scrutiny for his slow starts this season, was able to march his offence into Toronto’s redzone, but wasn’t able to find the endzone from in close.
From there and into the early parts of the second quarter, Reilly and his offence continued to move the ball well, but were unable to find the endzone and were ultimately forced to settle for a trio field goals by Shaw, giving them a slim 9-7 lead.
But Edmonton’s lead was short-lived, as Ray found Jason Barnes for an eight-yard touchdown on Toronto’s next possession.
One play prior to the score, TJ Hill was flagged for illegal contact, giving Toronto a fresh set of downs from inside Edmonton’s 10.
However, much like Edmonton’s earlier advantage, Toronto’s didn’t last long.
Thanks to a pair of big catches by Fred Stamps – totaling a combined 83 yards – the Esks were able to set up inside Toronto’s 10-yard line with a fresh set of downs.
One play later, Reilly found slotback Cary Koch in the back of the endzone for the touchdown, giving the Eskimos a 16-14 lead in the process.
Just before the end of the half, the Argos re-claimed the lead once again, as Noel Prefontaine split the uprights from 20 yards out.
|Reilly, Ray Shine|
The teams entered the half with the Toronto leading 17-16.
Ray was nearly perfect in the first half, completing 17-straight passes to tie an Argos franchise record for consecutive completions.
He finished the opening 30 minutes 17/18 for 174 yards and one touchdown.
His counterpart in Green and Gold wasn’t too shabby either, as Reilly put together arguably his best half of football this season, completing 16 of his 19 passes for 236 yards and a major of his own.
Ray’s QB clinic would continue into the third quarter, as he led the Boatmen on a five-play, 90-yard drive that was capped off by a 31-yard touchdown pass to John Chiles.
The touchdown was Chiles’ fourth in as many games.
On the drive, Ray was good on all four of his pass attempts, completing strikes to Andre Durie, two to Quinn Porter and Chiles.
After Toronto saw their lead increase as a result of a conceded safety by the Esks, Ray went back to work, looking to extend Toronto's lead once again.
And he would do just that, but not without a slight amount of adversity.
One play after finding Owens for a a 20-yard completion, Ray was stripped of the ball and fumbled deep in his own backfield, but saw the loose ball get scooped up by offensive lineman Jariel King, who proceeded to rumble his way back to the line of scrimmage to salvage the broken play.
The recovery was a crucial one, as Ray found Owens in the endzone on the very next play to extend Toronto's lead to 33-16.
Having been dormant for the majority of the second half, Reilly and the Esks offence woke up with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by 16, the pivot led the Esks on an eight-play 69-yard drive that ended with second-year receiver Shamawd Chambers hauling in a pass in the endzone while draped in coverage for a touchdown.
The Eskimos went for the two point conversion but failed, keeping their defcit at 10 points.
Edmonton would continue to chip away at Toronto's lead, however, as Shaw connected on a 34-yard field goal with 2:10 remaining in the final frame.
While Reilly had done all he could on this night, Ray was simply too much, as he led the Argos on a late-game drive that culminated in a 26-yard field goal by Prefontaine to restore their 10-point lead.
Like he's done in Edmonton's last two games, Reilly led his offence on one final drive and found Stamps in the endzone for a 34-yard touchdown strike. However, it was a case of too little, too late, as the Argos hung on for the 36-33 win.
As a result of Reilly and Ray's big nights, several receivers also enjoyed solid outings.
For the Argos, Owens and Chiles both eclipsed the century mark, with Owens hauling in nine passes for 102 yards and a score, while Chiles brought in five grabs for 135 yards and a score.
On Edmonton's side of the field, Stamps topped all receivers with six catches for 172 yards and a TD. Henry and Nate Coehoorn also impressed, as they combined for 188 yards on 11 catches.
Next week, the Argos continue their homestand against the Stampeders, while the Eskimos return home to face the West-leading Roughriders.