The Toronto Argonauts, in typical Argonauts fashion were able to squeak out a 25-22 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Wednesday evening at Rogers Centre. The Argonauts (2-2) and Blue Bombers (0-4) were battling for last place in the CFL’s East Division and thankfully for the Argonauts they were able to emerge victorious and are now looking at a potential first-place positioning depending on how the rest of weekend’s action plays out.
The large story entering Wednesday night’s game at Rogers Centre was the indefinite absence of Bombers starting quarterback, Buck Pierce who was injured last week in Edmonton. Alex Brink was making his first start of the season for the Bombers in Toronto and his 2012 debut as the Bombers starting quarterback was less than spectacular. Brink was a dreadful 9-for-34 with 185 yards passing and two interceptions.
The difference in the football game came with just over two minutes to play in the fourth quarter when Ricky Ray connected with his long time favorite target, Jason Barnes for a 38-yard touchdown which put the Argonauts ahead for good and earned them their second victory of 2012. Jason Barnes had his best game as an Argonaut on Wednesday night recording four catches for 72 yards and his very touchdown as a member of the Argos.
Early on in the first quarter, Argos cornerback, Brandon Isaac absolutely rocked Alex Brink and the ensuing pass was intercepted by Robert McCune and gave the Argos offense great field position deep in Bombers territory. Cory Boyd would quickly turn that Bombers interception into seven points when he snagged a Ricky Ray pass out in the flat and walked into the end zone for the very first major score of the football game. Bombers star receiver, Chris Matthews was injured in the first quarter but he did return to the game to finish with only one catch for 17 yards.
The Argonauts will be without Noel Prefontaine for the remainder of their 2012 season and his replacement Swayze Waters was making his Argonauts debut on Wednesday night. He went one-for-two in the game including a 46-yard miss in the first quarter.
Ricky Ray had another solid statistical game, completing 23/34 passes for 325 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception. Early in the second quarter, Ray was able to hookup with Andre Durie for 50 yards moving the ball deep into Bombers territory. Bombers safety, Ian Logan and Argos receiver, Andre Durie were both injured on the play but they both returned to the game shortly after. The big 50-yard reception was Durie’s longest grab of the season and set up a Swayze Waters 18-yard field goal to extend the Argos lead to 11-3. With four and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Blue Bombers were finally able to break through as Alex Brink plunged in from one-yard out to make it an 11-10 game. The momentum seemed to have dramatically shifted as the Bombers took the lead with 1:40 remaining in the first half on one of Justin Palardy’s five field goals. Jordan Younger came up with his second interception of the season with under a minute to go in the first half setting up a last minute offensive drive for Ricky Ray and he was able to connect with Chad Owens for a 37-yard touchdown to renew the Argos lead and send them into the half ahead18-13. Owens touchdown was his very first receiving score since the Argos 2010 campaign.
Andre Durie had a total five catches for 92 yards receiving in the first half and did not see any touches in the second half. Cory Boyd had only five carries in the first half for 29 yards and as the Argos struggled to find consistency in the offense, it would have made sense to get Boyd more involved.
Ricky Ray began the second half with an interception late in the third quarter setting up the Bombers offense deep in Argos territory. The Blue Bombers were unable to capitalize and walked away with just a field goal cutting the Argos lead to 18-16.
Chad Owens had trouble hanging on to the football on Wednesday night as he fumbled two punts and none bigger than his fumble early in the fourth quarter, setting up the Bombers at the Argos 30-yard line. However, yet again the Bombers were unable to capitalize and recorded a 38-yard field goal to give them a 19-18 lead. Palardy would add another field goal with four minutes remaining in the game to extend the Bombers lead to 22-18. With less than two minutes to play, Ricky Ray was able to find his groove as he connected with Jason Barnes for a 38-yard touchdown giving the Argos the 25-22 victory.
The Bombers did get the ball back twice following Barnes’ touchdown reception but were unable to move the ball down the field, turning the ball over on downs twice to finish the ball game and secure the victory for the Argonauts.
Cory Boyd, following rushing for a career high 168 yards against Hamilton last Saturday, had only 13 carries for 54 yards against the Bombers. Despite having a receiving touchdown, Boyd was fairly non-existent in the Argos offensive attack on Wednesday evening.
The Argos seem to have all the pieces in place to make a run at a Grey Cup Championship but they seem to be unable to truly dominate a game. While it is still early on in the season, there is definitely cause for concern with the Argonauts inconsistent play so far in 2012. On Wednesday night it was the defense that was stellar and the offense that struggled to find its groove for most of the game.
Armond Armstead, Jordan Younger, and Jalil Carter were the big performers for the Argos on this night. Armstead recorded five tackles along with a sack of Alex Brink. Younger had an interception late in the first half which set up Chad Owens first touchdown catch since 2010. Jalil Carter celebrated his 23rd birthday on Wednesday and recorded five tackles on the night.
It certainly wasn’t the best performance from the Argonauts but as they say, a win is a win and that is all that matters. It was definitely ugly but they found a way to get it done and earn their second victory of 2012.
The official attendance at the game on Wednesday evening was 22,485. That is a fairly large crowd on a weekday for the Argonauts. Argos fans seem to be very excited about this 2012 season.