by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Argonauts 48, Roughriders 15
TORONTO — Ricky Ray and Chad Owens’ heeded their coach’s call Saturday.
Ray threw for 407 yards and three TDs while Owens amassed 248 all-purpose yards and a touchdown as the Toronto Argonauts stunned the Saskatchewan Roughriders 48-15 before a sparse Rogers Centre gathering of 17,758.
The win was redemption for Toronto (1-1), coming off a dismal 45-21 season-opening loss in Winnipeg. What’s more, Saskatchewan (1-1) began its Grey Cup defence registering 10 sacks in a lopsided 31-10 home win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. On Friday, Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said he was looking forward to seeing which of his players would step up against the defending CFL champions.
“Those were two of the guys I expected to do that,” Milanovich said of Ray and Owens. “I guess I just expect it at this point.
“Last week wasn’t good . . . I think our pride was hurt, I think we were embarrassed by the way we showed up. Professional athletes are very competitive, very prideful and to take a whooping like that when you didn’t see it coming, that sticks with you. It may’ve been a good thing for us in the longterm to kind of open your eyes and show us we need to step up every week.”
Toronto quickly took control, surging to a 17-1 half-time lead that swelled to 24-1 just five minutes into the second half. Being firmly ahead allowed the Argos to continue utilizing their entire playbook and maintaining a balanced attack to keep Saskatchewan’s defence guessing.
Toronto ran for 161 yards with sophomore Curtis Steele rushing for 59 yards and two TDs on eight carries while rookie Antony Coombs added 52 yards on six carries. Ray also got into the act, running four times for 32 yards.
Eskimos 28, Tiger-Cats 24
EDMONTON — Grant Shaw made a pair of field goals in the final two minutes of play and the defence came up with a dramatic final stand as the Edmonton Eskimos equalled their home win total from last season in just one game, defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28-24 in their home opener on Friday.
Shaw had previously missed on two other fourth-quarter three-point attempts.
The Eskimos, who went 1-8 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton in 2013, improved to 2-0 this year.
Edmonton also eclipsed its win total from its first 10 games last season when they got off to a 1-9 start before finishing with just four wins in total.
The Tiger-Cats dropped to 0-2.
The Edmonton defence set the tone on just the second play of the game, as Aaron Grymes sacked Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros.
Grymes then picked off a Collaros pass on the Ticats next possession, giving the Eskimos the ball on the Hamilton 14. The play eventually led to a three-yard touchdown pass from QB Mike Reilly to Nate Coehoorn to put Edmonton up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Hamilton caught a big break with five minutes left in the first, as Edmonton receiver Adarius Bowman, who had dropped a sure TD pass the play before, fumbled the ball away to Erik Harris. Harris brought the ball back 48 yards into Edmonton territory.
The big turnover ended up turning it into a tie game, as backup QB Dan LeFevour came in to run for a two-yard touchdown strike. Edmonton regained the lead seven minutes into the second as a 43-yard pass to Fred Stamps set up a Shaw field goal to put the Esks ahead 10-7. Moments later, Collaros was flattened by a helmet hit to the chin by Edmonton’s Odell Willis and was taken out of the game. He did not return. A series of bad penalties by the Eskimos put Hamilton deep in Edmonton territory and allowed them to tie the game again on a 22-yard Justin Medlock field goal for a 10-10 score at the half.
The Tiger-Cats jumped in front early in the third as a 46-yard passing play from third-string QB Jeremiah Masoli to Cary Koch led to a seven-yard touchdown run by C.J. Gable.
The Eskimos responded with a 32-yard Shaw field goal on the next series to make it 17-13, a score that stood up heading into the fourth.
Hamilton took an 11-point lead three minutes into the final frame as a 39-yard passing play to Luke Tasker set up a 10-yard TD catch by Gable to make it 24-13 for the Tabbies.
Edmonton was unable to capitalize on a 62-yard kickoff return by Patrick Robertson to the 40, and ended up with just a single point on a missed Shaw field goal attempt.
However, the Eskimos would still make a game out of it with just under nine minutes left as Masoli took off on a QB keeper, only to have the ball ripped out of his hands by Edmonton defender Patrick Watkins and taken 50 yards into the end zone to make it 24-21 for the Ticats.
A minute later Masoli fumbled a snap and then held up Edmonton’s Marcus Howard in his attempt to recover it, earning a loose ball interference call and turning the ball over to the Eskimos on the Hamilton 33. Once again, though, the Esks squandered the opportunity as Shaw missed a 38-yard attempt.
Edmonton got back into field goal territory one more time with 1:30 left to play and this time Shaw was good from 43 yards out to put the Eskimos up 25-24.
Hamilton got the ball back one more time, but LeFevour was picked off by Joe Burnett who took the ball down to the Tiger-Cats 17, leading to another Shaw field goal, this one from the 15-yard-line.
However, the fireworks continued as the Tiger-Cats got the ball back and marched down field in the final minute all the way to the Edmonton five-yard-line, but the Eskimos defence was able to come up with a pair of big stops to earn the win.
The Eskimos return to action next Friday when they host the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks. The Tiger-Cats have a bye before visiting Calgary on July 18.
Notes: The defending Eastern Conference champion Tiger-Cats had a tough start on the offensive line in their opening week 31-10 loss to Saskatchewan, allowing 10 quarterback sacksa The Eskimos started the season as the only team in the CFL to open with a road win, defeating the B.C. Lions 27-20. With that win, the Eskimos remained the league’s greatest all-time season opening club with a 41-26-1 record.a Eskimos starting safety Ryan Hinds missed the game and has been placed on the six-game injured with a lower-body injury. However, Edmonton had some good news as linebacker J.C. Sherritt returned to the lineup for the first time this season. Edmonton was 0-8 last season without Sherritt, who set the CFL single-season record for tackles two years ago with 130a Edmonton came into the game with a league-best 46-17-2 record in home openers.