Roughriders 46 Argonauts 36
TORONTO — When opportunity knocked, Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan Roughriders were there to answer the call.
Durant threw three touchdown passes while the Roughriders took advantage of Toronto miscues to score 30 second-quarter points en route to a 46-36 win over the Argonauts on Saturday afternoon.
Saskatchewan (2-0) blew the game open by scoring 28 points in the final 4:58 of the second to emphatically erase a 13-7 deficit. Durant battled through a badly bruised right thumb suffered last week against B.C., completing 18-of-29 passes for 205 yards and an interception to improve to 6-0 as a CFL starter.
A quiet Rogers Centre gathering of 30,055 serenaded Toronto (1-1) with loud boos when the offence simply hit a knee to mercifully end the spectacular meltdown, which was aided by 14 first-half penalties for 131 yards. At least the Argos faithful were rewarded with brilliant sunshine once the roof was opened to start the second half.
“The second quarter was huge for us,” Durant said. “It put us in a position to jump out and helped us stay on top and get the win, which is what we needed to do.”
And it helped take some pressure off Durant, who admitted his injured thumb bothered him throughout the contest.
“Yeah, it did but I fought through it and we came out on top,” he said. “The defence played well for us again but what we didn’t do last week was capitalize on the sacks and turnovers they got us.
“I think we did a better job of that this week but we can still do better. It’s a game of turnover margin and the team with the better turnover ratio usually wins.”
Saskatchewan finished with two turnovers after surrendering eight in last week’s season-opening 28-24 win over B.C. Toronto outscored the Riders 23-9 in the second half, but that hardly mattered as it turned the ball over five times (interception, three fumbles, blocked punt) after registering none against Hamilton.
Argos rookie head coach Bart Andrus said he simply won’t tolerate sloppy and undisciplined play and vowed changes if it persists.
“The issue we have to address is whether we want to be a street fighter or a WWE wrestler or do you want to be a professional football player,” he said. “I will not be embarrassed week after week by this conduct.
“They will not be here.”
A 28-point outburst in the final 4:28 of the second gave Saskatchewan a commanding 37-13 half-time lead, thanks in large part to Toronto.
John Chick’s fumble recovery put the Riders at the Toronto 30-yard line and a facemask penalty on the home team moved Saskatchewan to the nine-yard line. Hugh Charles then hauled in Durant’s shovel pass and scampered in at 10:22.
Two more penalties allowed Saskatchewan to kick off from midfield, and Matt Black’s bad decision to return the ball put Toronto at its four-yard line. Two plays later, Joseph botched the handoff to Jamal Robertson, resulting in Sean Lucas recovering the fumble at the Argos’ four-yard line. That set up Charles’ two-yard TD run at 12:01.
Durant hit Weston Dressler on a 33-yard touchdown pass at 14:20 before Jerrell Freeman put an exclamation mark on Saskatchewan’s dominance, first blocking Justin Medlock’s punt then recovering it in the end zone at 14:50.
“It was a pretty good burst,” said Riders coach Ken Miller. “We were able to force some errors and then take advantage of them.”
Toronto also had a hand in Saskatchewan’s first TD, Durant’s 22-yard strike to Andy Fantuz at 10:53 of the first. The drive was aided by roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness calls against the Argos.
“Obviously we had some serious issues with what happened in the second quarter,” Andrus said. “It’s a real bad feeling when you can’t accomplish your gameplan.”