It was Chad Owens’ big first half that led the Toronto Argonauts to a slim 23-20 victory over their rival, Montreal Alouettes on Friday night. Owens managed to record seven receptions in the ball game for a total of 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Ricky Ray managed to have yet another very productive game for the Argonauts, completing 20-of-30 pass attempts resulting in 280 yards passing and a pair of touchdown tosses.
Argos Head Coach, Scott Milanovich was making his first return to Montreal since leaving the Alouettes this past offseason in favor of getting a fresh start, as a Head Coach in Toronto. Milanovich and Alouettes Head Coach, Marc Trestman seemed to have been implementing similar offensive game plans as both clubs came out firing on all cylinders to begin the game.
The Alouettes opened the scoring with a 36-yard Sean Whyte field goal on the opening possession of the football game. The Argos quickly countered, as Ricky Ray only required two plays in order to find the end zone for his first touchdown pass of the evening. Ray orchestrated a quick 70-yard drive, which was capped off by a 32-yard Chad Owens touchdown reception, his first of the evening. The Alouettes recaptured the lead late in the first quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Calvillo to Brandon London. The first quarter was an offensive battle. Chad Owens and Brandon London were the big targets for their respective quarterbacks and it seemed as though a shootout was on our hands.
The second quarter did not have any shortage of highflying action. Chad Owens recorded his second touchdown of the game on the very first play of the quarter. It was a 10-yard reception in the back of the end zone, capping off a nine-play, 73-yard drive. The Argos seemed to have pulled ahead by double-digits when Ricky Ray spotted his former Eskimo teammate, Jason Barnes in the end zone for what would have been his second touchdown of the season. However, offensive lineman, Joe Eppele was called for a holding penalty on the play and the Argonauts were only able to come away with a Swayze Waters field goal.
A scary moment for Argonauts fans occurred late in the first half when Chad Owens, while returning a punt was brought down hard by Alouettes backup safety, Kyries Hebert. Owens remained on the turf for several minutes prior to walking off the field under his own power. Argos fans would breathe a sigh of relief as they saw their Fly’ in Hawaiian return to the field just a few plays later. Hebert had ripped Owens down to the turf from behind, grabbing the head area of the Argonauts receiver in order to bring him down. No penalty was called on the play and thankfully the incident was not as bad as it looked at first glance.
Swayze Waters connected on his second field goal of the first half with just over a minute remaining in the second quarter. Swayze showed off his incredible leg with a 50-yard boot right through the uprights to put the Argos ahead 20-13 at halftime.
Alouettes running back, Brandon Whitaker left the game in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury and missed the remainder of the first half. Luckily for Als fans, Whitaker returned in the second half and was a large part of their offense down the stretch of the football game.
The second half was a defensive stalemate, as both teams seemed to make adjustments in order to slow down both offenses. The Argos were able to generate their second turnover of the football game early in the third quarter as Kevin Huntley forced a fumble off Brandon Whitaker and the ball was recovered by Ejiro Kuale. However, despite the big defensive play, the Argonauts could not turn that Alouettes mistake into points as Swayze Waters missed his first field goal of the evening from 46 yards out. Anthony Calvillo began to find his rhythm in the third quarter but it did not result in many points as the Als were able to only strike three late in the quarter off a 49-yard field goal from Sean Whyte.
Following a rouge to open up the fourth quarter which cut the Argos lead to just three points, Swayze made good yet again on a 50-yard field goal. Swayze was 3-for-4 on the evening and was a huge difference maker in the football game.
Much of the second half was a battle of the kickers and Sean Whyte converted on his fourth field goal of the game with eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter in order to cut the Als deficit to 23-20.
As both offenses struggled to find the end zone in the second half, it would come down to one final drive for the Alouettes with forty seconds to play in the game. Anthony Calvillo has had multiple comeback victories over the course of his illustrious 20-year CFL career but this night belonged to the Argos defense. After hooking up with Brandon London for a large 27-yard pickup, the Argos defense would force the Als into a third down situation. With no time left on the clock, the Alouettes elected to attempt a 54-yard field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime. Chad Owens was awaiting the kick just beyond his own goal line. Sean Whyte had the game on his foot and he came up just short of the uprights, sealing the victory for the Argos and lifting them to their third victory of 2012.
The Argonauts defense gave up quite a few yards but they did not breakdown when it counted the most. They were able to make big stops in order to prevent the Alouettes from punching the ball into the end zone. Robert McCune was flying all around the field as he recorded ten tackles on the evening. Pat Watkins who got hurt late in the football game recorded six tackles and had a wonderful interception late in the first half to stall an Alouettes drive.
Ricky Ray managed to throw for just 42 yards in the second half and Cory Boyd was almost non-existent for the second week in a row for the Argos but they somehow managed to hang on to their first half lead and capture a very important victory.
The Argonauts are now in first place in the CFL East Division, ahead of the Als who now sit at 2-3.
Anthony Calvillo managed to remain the leagues leading passer as he out dueled Ricky Ray from a statistical standpoint but Ray was the man who got the last laugh on this night, as his team is going home victorious and with top spot in the East Division in their hands.
– Daniele Franceschi –