Lions spoil Ricky Ray's return to Argos

Jonathan Jennings threw two TD strikes and a two-point convert as the B.C. Lions took advantage of Toronto penalties and held on for a wild 27-25 road win over the Argos on Friday night to spoil Ricky Ray's 2015 starting debut.

Lions beat Argos 27-25 in Ray's return

8 years ago
Duration 0:26
The Lions spoiled Ricky Ray's return to the lineup as they they topped the Argos 27-25 at the Rogers Center

Jonathan Jennings and the B.C. Lions took advantage of the Toronto Argonauts' meltdown to solidify their run for the final West Division playoff spot.

Jennings threw two TD strikes and a two-point convert as B.C. capitalized on untimely Toronto penalties in a wild 27-25 road win over the Argos on Friday night to spoil Ricky Ray's 2015 starting debut.

B.C. (7-10) remained third in the West but eliminated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-11) from playoff contention. The Montreal Alouettes (6-10) are also contending for a crossover but must beat the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday or the Lions will clinch a post-season berth for the 19th straight year.

"Oh, it was an ugly win, yeah," said Lions coach Jeff Tedford. "But it's a win.

"I think it did a lot for us just to keep playing, keep believing in what's going on. Somebody will make a play and that's kind of what happened."

The turning point came in the third quarter after Toronto went ahead 15-12 at 4:44 when Richie Leone gave up the safety. But the Argos were then flagged eight times on B.C.'s next two scoring drives.

The Lions went ahead 18-15 at 9:08 on Jennings' three-yard TD pass to Bryan Burnham before Andrew Harris's one-yard touchdown run at 14:21, capping a drive that featured three Argos penalties (including two objectionable conducts) on one play.

Jennings hit Burnham for the two-point convert, giving B.C. the 26-15 lead.

Yet Toronto nearly completed the amazing comeback, pulling to within 27-25 in a hectic fourth. Travis Hawkins returned a punt he blocked 33 yards for the TD at 4:47 before Jake Rogers' 25-yard field goal made it a two-point game at 9:18.

Jennings drove B.C. to the Toronto 33 before Ricky Foley blocked Leone's 43-yard field goal try, giving the Argos possession at their 37-yard line. But Ryan Phillips intercepted Ray with 19 seconds remaining.

"Everybody came together in the fourth quarter even when it looked like it was caving in and did a good job of holding on," Jennings said.

Jennings finished 21-of-33 passing for 259 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. He now has 15 TD strikes in his six starts with B.C, which finishes its regular season next Saturday hosting Calgary (12-4).

Toronto finished with 14 penalties for 152 yards.

"We struggled to keep our composure when a call goes against us, I think that's what you saw," said Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich. "That's the reality of football, whether it was the right or the wrong call doesn't matter, you can't lose your composure."

Afterwards, veteran linebacker Brandon Isaac gathered the defence, which seemed to calm the unit.

"For us to win, we've got to forget those events and push forward to the next play because we wasted a lot of energy on a play we couldn't do anything about," Isaac said.

Ray's first start of the season came before a Rogers Centre gathering of 14,236 after crowds of 3,401 and 3,741 watched Toronto's two home games at Tim Hortons Field.

Ray, in his 13th CFL season, spent the first half of the campaign recovering from off-season shoulder surgery before serving as Trevor Harris's backup. He finished 26-of-38 passing for 227 yards with a TD and interception but was sacked six times.

Ray was generally pleased with his play but also offered some self criticism.

"I have to do a better job of getting the ball out of my hands and getting through my reads quicker," Ray said. "Some drives I felt pretty good but others it was a case of seeing some things late or not entirely clearly and I couldn't pull the trigger."

Toronto (9-8) remains third in the East Division, two points behind the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (10-6) and Ottawa Redblacks (10-6), who meet Saturday at Tim Hortons Field before finishing the regular season at TD Place.

Toronto played just its fourth home game at Rogers Centre but first since a 35-27 loss to Hamilton on Sept. 11 — a span of 49 days. The Argos were forced to play regularly scheduled home contests in Ottawa and Hamilton because the Blue Jays were in the American League playoffs.

The Pan Am Games and scheduling issues at Rogers Centre also forced Toronto to play its season-opening home contest versus Edmonton in Fort McMurray, Alta. The Argos won that contest, 26-11 on June 27.

Lavelle Hawkins had B.C.'s other touchdown. Leone added two field goals and a single but missed two converts.

Phil Bates scored Toronto's other touchdown. Rogers booted two converts and three field goals but missed two others.

Both Tedford and Milanovich were critical of their kicking games.

"We believe in (Leone), he's a talented guy," Tedford said. "But we've got to see some results."

Toronto veteran kicker Swayze Waters could be available to punt and kick field goals versus Winnipeg but Milanovich doubts he'd be able to kick off. Regardless, he said the Argos must do better.

"We need to kick the ball better and punt the ball better," he said. "It's a factor."