August 12, 2014

Reliable Ricky: Ray sharp, Boatmen sail by Bombers

Adam Gagnon Staff

TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts were able to avenge their Week 1 loss in Winnipeg by handing the Blue Bombers a 38-21 loss in Toronto on Tuesday night.

Ricky Ray captained the Argos by completing 26-of-33 passes for 297 yards and throwing four touchdowns to four different receivers in the game. Ray was able to share the football around by throwing completions to 10 different receivers.

His counterpart, Drew Willy threw for 193 yards on 23-of-31 passes and found the end zone twice in a losing cause.

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To open the game, the Argos elected to receive the ball.

In their first play from scrimmage, Ray connected on a 60-yard pass to Robert Gill, but saw it called back due to  an offside call. The drive continued thanks to Steve Slaton, who was able to break a tackle and gain additional yards to move the chains for the Boatmen.

However the drive stalled and they called on Swayze Waters to punt the ball away.

On the return Winnipeg’s Troy Stoudermire carried the ball up field and found a seam, but Waters made a touchdown saving tackle to keep the Bombers off the board.

On the ensuing drive, Willy found Clarence Denmark for a first down and then handed the ball off to Nic Grigsby, who broke out for a 37-yard gain, his longest rush of the season which brought the Bombers inside the Argonauts 15 yard line.

Two plays later, Willy found Cory Watson for 9-yard major to open the scoring.

Throughout the rest of the opening quarter, the defences shut the door,  resulting in each team to go two-and-out for the remainder of the frame.

Once the second quarter got underway, Ray and the Argos offence began their drive on their own 13-yard line. With a long field ahead of them, Ray chipped away through the Bombers defence by first finding Gill for a first down and Darvin Adams for a nine-yard gain.

After a Mitchell Gale run extended the drive, it was Slaton’s turn to move the Argos up field, which he did by breaking two tackles netting a 26-yard gain.

Four plays later, Steele capped off the 97-yard four minute drive with a 19-yard touchdown run to tie up the game early in the second quarter.

Toronto’s defence looked to be refreshed following their bye week. And even though they allowed a major on the opening series, Tim Burke’s defence began to settle down and started causing issues for Willy and Winnipeg’s offence.

With their attack finding it hard to click, the Bombers special teams was looking to ignite any kind of spark. Once again, Stoudemire found a seam and turned it up field for a 61-yard gain to set the offence inside the Argos 30 yard line.

After a Grigsby run that netted a 6-yard gain, Willy took to the air and found Rory Kohlert in tight coverage for the 21-yard touchdown reception.

On the ensuing kickoff, Gill returned it 39 yards, setting the Argos up at midfield. With under four minutes left in the half, the Argos offence took the field looking to tie up the game.

They would do just that and more, Ray orchestrated a six-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a Maurice Mann 15-yard touchdown to knot up the game at 14-14.

With 1:21 left in the half, the Bombers took to the field looking to answer Toronto’s score with six points of their own. On their first play, however, Argos defensive lineman Tristan Okpalaugo sacked Willy for a seve- yard loss followed by another Winnipeg penalty that ultimately forced the Bombers to send out Lirim Hajrullahu to punt.

After a poor kick, the Argos began their drive on the Winnipeg 44 yard line with 47 seconds left in the opening half. Ray, fresh off a touchdown drive, rifled off four straight completions; the last one which found fullback Zander Robinson for the six-yard touchdown with only three seconds left on the clock to give the Argos their first lead in the contest.

The Argos entered the locker room with a 21-14 lead thanks to two touchdowns within 1:28 apart.

To open the half, the Argos kicked off the ball to the Blue Bombers and both offences had a hard time moving the ball.

On the fourth series, the Argos started off by handing the ball to Slaton, but after a hit by Bombers defensive backChris Randle, the ball popped out and allowing Desia Dunn to recover and set up the offence deep in Argo territory.

Willy came out with the offence working with a short field. On the first play he was sacked by Cleyon Laing, but once again it was negated after an objectionable conduct on Laing. After the penalty shortened the potential loss, it only took three more plays until Grigsby ran it in for the 8-yard touchdown to tie up the game midway through the third quarter.

Slaton’s troubles didn’t end there. Later in the quarter the Argos began driving down field and once again, Slaton was stripped of the football by Maurice Leggett, giving the Winnipeg offence favourable field position.

But on second-and-, Willy found Romby Bryant over the middle, but after making the catch he was stripped of the ball by Aston Whiteside and Laing picked up the loose ball in Bomber territory.

The Argos offence made the Bombers pay for their turnover by driving 49 yards, capped off by a Steele 15-yard reception to give the Argos the 28-21 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

On the next series, the Bombers thought they had the game all tied up after a Willy connected with Bryant for a 76-yard touchdown, but another Winnipeg penalty took the major away.

Following that play, Whiteside and Jamie Robinson teamed up and sacked Willy inside his own five yard line, resulting in another punt. The Argo offence continued to play efficiently. Ray delivered another drive resulting in a Waters 18-yard field goal to extend their lead to two possessions.

Again, with the backing of their home crowd, the Argos defence continued to stand tall, and refused to give Willy much to work with. With another punt the Argos offence once again hopped on field.

With the team looking to kill the clock as much as they could, the team went on another drive, this time resulting in a Spencer Watt touchdown grab, his first of the season to put the game out of reach.

This week, Toronto will continue it’s homestand when the BC Lions come visit on Sunday night, while Winnipeg plays host to Montreal in Week 9 on Friday Night Football.