Argonauts 25 Blue Bombers 24
TORONTO — Noel Prefontaine and the Toronto Argonauts won the battle and war of attrition Saturday night.
Prefontaine’s single with 23 seconds remaining earned Toronto a wild 25-24 win over a battered Winnipeg Blue Bombers squad that lost seven players, including starter Buck Pierce and backup Alex Brink.
Argos head coach/GM Jim Barker wasn’t going to let Winnipeg’s injury woes tarnish the victory for his beleaguered team before a paltry Rogers Centre gathering of 19,108.
“All I know is it was a win for us,” Barker said. “I don’t care that they lost their quarterbacks, tonight the team with the worst record in the league beat the team with the best.”
With a little luck, mind you.
Prefontaine missed a 38-yard field goal try but Toronto tackled returner Jovon Johnson in the end zone for the single. In keeping with the bizarre nature of the night, Prefontaine’s boot came after his initial try hit the upright but officials had called the play dead seconds before after a whistle was blown from the stands.
“The worst part about that is it’s a dead ball when it hits the crossbar like that and it’s still a tie game,” Bombers coach Paul LaPolice said. “We had a return set up and I think someone blew one of the blocks and that forced (Johnson) to turn back and he couldn’t get it out. You don’t want to give up the point.
“But I was proud of our guys, they handled more adversity than I’ve ever seen in my 11 years and put themselves in position to win the game.”
Winnipeg (8-4) suffered its first loss to an East Division opponent in six games this year. In addition to Pierce and Brink, the Bombers finished with tailbacks Fred Reid and Carl Volny, offensive linemen Brendon LaBatte and Luke Fritz and defensive tackle Doug Brown on the sidelines.
LaPolice said Pierce felt sore and was prepared to continue playing before coach made the decision to go with a healthier Brink.
Pierce finished 7-of-13 passing for 68 yards and an interception while Brink was 10-of-13 for 121 yards and a pick. Goltz completed three of his six passes for 36 yards.
“Buck said he was sore and wasn’t sure if he could scramble around so I said, ‘Get out, I’ll put Alex in,”’ LaPolice said. “I just wanted to protect him.
“I thought Alex did pretty well.”
Toronto didn’t emerge unscathed either with Jyles (arm) and slotback Andre Durie (hip flexor) and offensive lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux (head) all being injured. But the Argos (3-9) halted a three-game losing streak and earned their first win in six tries against East Division rivals this season despite passing for just 88 yards.
Tailback Cory Boyd was the offensive catalyst with 109 yards on 12 carries against a Winnipeg defence that came in giving up just 89.9 yards rushing per game.
“We matched their intensity and smacked them in the mouth,” Boyd said. “It shows what we can do when we play four quarters.”