TORONTO — Ricky Ray made a memorable home debut Saturday afternoon.
The veteran quarterback threw for 407 yards and two TDs but it was a crucial 36-yard completion to Andre Durie that set up Noel Prefontaine’s 28-yard field goal with no time left and earned the Toronto Argonauts a thrilling 39-36 home-opening win over the Calgary Stampeders.
“It was a weird game because there were a lot of mistakes, a lot of great plays and it was pretty exciting,” Ray said. “But for us to stay together and get through adversity and get the win is huge, especially in our home opener.
“I was able to step up inside the pressure and found Andre over the middle. He’s one of those guys you get the ball into his hands he’s going to make some plays and was able to do that and get us into field goal range.”
Toronto (1-1) earned its fourth straight win over Calgary (1-1), which has dropped nine of its last 11 games at Rogers Centre.
After Calgary tied the score 36-36, rookie Chandler Williams returned the kickoff 34 yards to the Toronto 47. Ray then found Durie on a completion to the Stampeders’ 27-yard line, and after runs by both Boyd (six yards) and Ray (no yards), Prefontaine calmly connected with the game-winning field goal.
“The feeling was still good because it was a tie game,” Ray said. “It’s not like we went down and felt like we had to go out and make some extraordinary plays.
“They (kickoff return team) put us in good field position and we just needed to be smart with the football but get ourselves up into scoring position. We were able to do that the first play and that was big for us.”
That was sweet redemption for Prefontaine, who had six in the game but his lone miss from 36 yards out was returned 125 yards for a TD by Calgary’s Larry Taylor at 3:15 of the fourth.
That allowed the visitors to tie the score 29-29.
Prefontaine also missed two-of-three field goals he tried in last week’s 19-15 road loss in Edmonton.
“There are some things in the game I’d like to have back that I didn’t do well,” Prefontaine said. “But you keep your head down and keep playing and deal with whatever happens . . . good or bad, you stay even-keeled.
“You don’t get too high and you don’t get too low. After 15 years that’s one thing I’ve learned.”
Prefontaine’s field goal capped a roller-coaster fourth before a sparse Rogers Centre gathering of 20,682 that saw Toronto go ahead 36-29 on Ray’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman — their second TD hookup in the contest. But following Taylor’s 64-yard punt return Glenn, who came into the game when starter Drew Tate suffered a shoulder injury in the first, threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Nik Lewis at 13:52.
The win was hardly a work of art, but it still was Scott Milanovich’s first as a CFL head coach and afterwards his players presented him with the game ball.
“A lot to clean up,” he said.
“I don’t know if I am a sentimental guy but I will keep the ball.
“As a head coach you only ever get one first win and this will be something I hold on to.”
Calgary lost more than the game, though, as Tate is out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury. He was hurt rolling out to his left to open the Stampeders’ second possession when he put his left arm down to brace himself while being hit by Toronto’s Derrick Summers.