The Toronto Argonauts entered Saturday’s matchup in Saskatchewan still in search of the elusive victory that would clinch the team’s first playoff berth since the 2010 CFL season.
Maurice Mann opened the scoring in Regina on Saturday with his first touchdown reception of the 2012 season. Ricky Ray orchestrated a five-play, fifty-five yard drive capped off by Mann’s 18-yard touchdown. Ricky Ray was a perfect 4-for-4 on the touchdown drive.
On the following Argonauts’ offensive possession, Riders’ linebacker, Joe Lobendahn recorded his second interception of the season as Ricky Ray’s pass was bobbled by his intended receiver and tipped into the hands of the Riders’ veteran defensive leader.
However, the Riders’ were unable to convert the turnover into points and the Argonauts’ would strike again shortly after, extending their lead as Ricky Ray connected with Andre Durie for his fourth touchdown reception of the season.
The Riders’ would finally get on the board at the beginning of the second quarter with a 37-yard Sandro DeAngelis field goal.
Shortly after the DeAngelis field goal, Kory Sheets would get the Riders’ back within striking distance as he rumbled 24 yards into the end zone for his eleventh rushing touchdown of the season. The touchdown drive accumulated four plays and forty-five yards in two minutes and thirty-six seconds.
The Roughriders continued their late second quarter surge with a 27-yard Sandro DeAngelis field goal cutting the Argonauts’ lead to 14-13.
The Argonauts’ concluded the first half much like how it began. The Boatmen were 3-for-3 in the red zone in the first half and with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Ricky Ray hooked up with Andre Durie for his second touchdown of the game, extending the Argos’ lead to 21-13.
Sandro DeAngelis’ third field goal of the first half reduced the Argonauts’ lead to just 21-16 heading into halftime.
Tristan Jackson opened up the second half for the Riders with a booming 73-yard kickoff return. However, the Riders could not convert the big return into points as Sandro DeAngelis could not make good on a short 16-yard field goal attempt.
On the ensuing Argonauts’ offensive possession, Ricky Ray would connect with the “Fly’ in Hawaiian”, Chad Owens for a 60-yard touchdown. The Argos’ reclaimed their double-digit lead at 28-17.
Sandro DeAngelis would chip away at the Argonauts’ lead late in the third quarter with a 27-yard field goal making it 28-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Roughriders would continue their comeback efforts, as Darian Durant would orchestrate a five-play, sixty-seven yard touchdown drive. The big play on the drive came courtesy of Kory Sheets who scampered 42 yards deep into Argonauts’ territory setting up Weston Dressler’s thirteenth receiving touchdown of the season. The Riders’ were unsuccessful on the two-point conversion leaving the Argos’ ahead 28-26.
Swayze Waters was successful on his only field goal attempt of the game as he extended the Argonauts’ lead to 31-26 with two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Isaac’s fantastic performance on Saturday afternoon will definitely be overlooked by his helmet-to-helmet hit on Darian Durant on a crucial second down with under one minute remaining in the game.
Durant would convert for the Riders on a critical third down but could not complete the comeback as he threw his twelfth interception of the season in the dying seconds of the game. Evan McCollough’s second interception of the season sealed the deal and clinched the Argonauts’ spot in the 100th Grey Cup playoffs.
Ricky Ray finished the game an efficient 24-of-30 with 305 yards passing, and four touchdowns. Maurice Mann had his best game as an Argonaut on Saturday. The veteran receiver recorded seven receptions for 101 yards receiving, and a touchdown.
Chad Owens continued his journey to his first 4,000-yard campaign by recording 178 total yards and his sixth receiving touchdown of the season.
Brandon Isaac led the way defensively for the Argonauts’ with eight tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble.
However, the main story on this afternoon is the fact that the Argonauts’ will make their first playoff appearance since the 2010 CFL season and will host their first playoff game since 2007.
Further information regarding the Argonauts’ home playoff game on November 11 can be found on Argonauts.ca.
– Daniele Franceschi –