Argos intercept the Braley Bowl

Another week, another heart-stopping win for Byron Parker and the Toronto Argonauts.

Toronto Argonauts Kevin Huntley

Toronto Argonauts Kevin Huntley

Argonauts 24 Lions 20

TORONTO — Another week, another heart-stopping win for Byron Parker and the Toronto Argonauts.

Parker’s 41-yard interception return for a touchdown rallied the surprising Argos to a historic but sloppy 24-20 victory over the B.C. Lions on Friday night.

The game was dubbed the Braley Bowl because it featured the two CFL teams owned by Hamilton businessman David Braley. It was a historic contest because it marked the first time ever two franchises with the same owner had squared off.

Parker, in man coverage against Lions receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux, brilliantly jumped the route and stepped in front of Travis Lulay’s pass at 12:34 of the fourth to put Toronto ahead 24-20. It came after Cleo Lemon’s 20-yard TD strike to Brandon Rideau at 8:57 cut B.C.’s lead to 20-17.

“They had been running that play all night and I’ll be honest with you I had to tell our defensive co-ordinator (Chip Garber) I was so upset he kept calling this coverage that we were in,” Parker said. “I was like, ’Coach, I’ll never get there.’

“But he called the perfect coverage at the right time. I was the last line of defence because all the other guys were covered. I took the opportunity and we reversed the game.”

Lions coach/GM Wally Buono wasn’t the least bit surprised by Parker’s heroics. After all, the TD return was the seventh of Parker’s career, leaving him one behind the CFL record.

“Knowing Parker, he sits there in the wings and then he jumps in,” Buono said. “We made a lot of mistakes.

“It wasn’t just the two (Jamal Robertson’s third-quarter fumble at the Toronto two-yard line and Parker’s interception) but those were the ones that cost us.”

It marked the second straight comeback win for Toronto (3-1), which rallied for last week’s 27-24 victory against Calgary. The surprising Argos — who won three games all of last year — are tied with Montreal atop the East Division and start a season at 3-1 for the first time since ’97.

But the victory was an ugly one as the sparse Rogers Centre gathering of 19,709 saw a combined eight turnovers — four per team — and 18 penalties for 155 yards.

“This is what our team is right now,” Toronto head coach Jim Barker said.

“We’re a young team with a lot of young players on offence, we have a young quarterback, we’re going to make mistakes.

“We’ve got an experienced defence and we play great special teams. Now, if we do things like take stupid penalties and turn the ball over like we did tonight we’re not going to win many games. We had Byron Parker step up and make a big play and bail us out but wins are wins in this league. It’s not easy to win. If we do it the way we do it, God bless us.”

Once again, Toronto did it the hard way. The Argos have fallen behind in all four of their games this season and been forced to come back in the fourth. While admitting it’s not a sound strategy, Barker says his players never doubted they could win Friday.

“This is a special group of guys,” he said. “I don’t believe there was a question we were going to win the football game, that someone was going to step up and make a play.

“They never stopped believing that. You build character by having some success doing things the right way but tonight we did some things the wrong way and it almost hurt us and hopefully we learn from that.”

Toronto also improved to 4-0 dating back to last year when it had a 100-yard rusher. Rookie Cory Boyd ran for 148 yards on 19 carries, his third-straight 100-yard effort. The other victory came last year when Robertson broke the century mark.

Boyd is the first Argo to rush for three straight 100-yard games since legendary tailback Bill Symons in 1968.

Argos starter Lemon was 19-of-28 passing for 222 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Lions (1-3) suffered their third straight defeat. Lulay earned his first career start with incumbent Casey Printers (knee) ailing. Lulay finished 26-of-39 passing for 315 yards and two interceptions.

B.C.’s offence looked good early under Lulay’s leadership. The young quarterback was afforded time to look downfield while Robertson rushed for two first-half touchdowns against his former team.

But Toronto began pressuring Lulay in the second half, forcing him to throw before he was set or his receivers got open.

“In the first half we were making up for our own mistakes,” Lulay said. “If we dropped one, we’d catch the next.

“In the second half we didn’t do that and it really cost us. They just kind of hung around and we made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them.”

Robertson had two TDs for B.C. Paul McCallum had a field goal — running his streak to 23 straight — a single and two converts. The other points came on a safety.

Jeremaine Copeland scored Toronto’s other touchdown. Grant Shaw booted a field goal and three converts.

NOTES – Lions receiver Geroy Simon extended his receiving streak to 128 games with a first-quarter catch while defensive end Brent Johnson appeared in his 154th straight contest . . . Kicker Sean Whyte, cornerback Hamid Mahmoudi, linebacker Anton McKenzie and defensive lineman Steve Williams didn’t dress for the Lions. Defensive back Matt Black, linebacker Leon Joe, offensive lineman Joe Eppele and receiver Spencer Watt were Toronto’s scratches . . . Chad Lucas, who was Toronto’s leading receiver last year, made his first start of the season for the Argos . . . Lions defnsive back Dante Marsh had a club record-tying 12 tackles in last week’s loss to Montreal.