Riders cruise to win over undisciplined Argos

Hugh Charles scored two touchdowns, Darian Durant threw for another and a blocked punt added a fourth in a 30-0 second quarter as the Saskatchewan Roughriders cruised to a 46-30 victory over the host Toronto Argonauts on Saturday afternoon.

Nightmare 2nd quarter for Toronto gives visitors all they need

Post-game film study is not going to be much fun this week out at the Toronto Argonauts suburban practice facility in Mississauga.

Saturday afternoon at the home opener the Double Blue produced an extraordinarily undisciplined second quarter collapse that ruined a quick start and gave the swarming Saskatchewan Roughriders everything they needed to walk away with an easy 46-36 win.

The Argos (1-1) led this one 13-7 through the opening quarter before giving up 30 points in a second 15 minutes that must have seemed like 15 years to new coach Bart Andrus.

This is a man, after all, who believes in discipline — in not giving up what he calls "controllable penalties."

Like the 14 little orange flags thrown in the first half that added up to 131 yards against the Argonauts, keeping them backed up against their own goal posts and preventing them from advancing past their own 30 yard line the whole second quarter.

Add those penalties to the three fumbles, one interception and a key blocked punt for a touchdown by Jerrell Freeman and it put the capper on the half from hell.

On the other hand, it was a fine sunny day for the Riders (2-0), even though the dome didn't shed its roof until halftime after a thunderstorm passed by.

No kiss here

This might not be the best time for Adriano Belli to plant one of his famous kisses on the cheek of his head coach, Bart Andrus.

At the post-game press conference following Toronto’s 46-36 loss to Saskatchewan on Saturday, Andrus was decrying the lack of discipline that caused a 30-0 nightmare of a second quarter, a run that decided the game.

One of those singled out was Belli (the Kissing Bandit), who in the opening quarter head butted a Rider and picked up a 15-yard roughing penalty at just the wrong time — when he and his teammates were piling up 131 first-half penalty yards. The Riders scored their first touchdown of the game right afterwards.

"If he wants to be a WWE wrestler, then he can go do that, but he’s not going to do it on my football team," Andrus said. "And he will not be here if he can’t do what we ask him to do."

The first-year Argo boss is known for a long fuse, but he came close to blowing his top this time.

"I don’t get upset very often, but that upsets me when guys act like they did. He’s either going to conform or he’s not going to be here to play football. He’ll be playing against us somewhere and we’ll get those penalties."

Belli was contrite.

"It’s a fine line in football. I’m going to keep trying to get after the quarterback and play the way I’ve played, but he’s absolutely right."

Hugh Charles scored twice in that second quarter, one by run and one by air, and offered a single back flip the first time and a double for the repeat.

Durant on target

Darian Durant improved to 6-0 as a starter for the Riders and finished 18 of 28 for 205 yards and three touchdowns. And seven different receivers spread the catching wealth.

"The second quarter was huge for us," said Durant, who was playing with a sore right thumb picked up in Game 1. "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.

"The defence played well for us again but what we didn't do last week [against B.C.] was capitalize on the sacks and turnovers they got for us.

"I think we did a better job of that this week, but we can still do better."

Andrus was not pleased.

"Obviously we had some serious issues with what happened in the second quarter," he said. "It's a bad feeling when you can't accomplish your game plan."

Argos find no joy at home

It was the fourth straight win for Saskatchewan in Toronto and represented the Argos' seventh consecutive home loss dating back to last Aug. 1. That ties a franchise mark and this is a team that goes back 136 years.

What must have been particularly galling for Andrus was his club outscored Saskatchewan 36-16 over the other three quarters — he looked to be quietly seething on the way to the locker room at the break.

The halftime message must have gotten through because the Argos were back to being organized and disciplined, scoring 10 points to close the gap to a couple of touchdowns.

But after Toronto's Jamal Robertson (who had a solid 80-yard day) hustled one in from short yardage to make it 37-22, Durant brought his team back down with panache for a field goal.

Any chance the Argos might have had for a comeback disappeared when quarterback Kerry Joseph fumbled the ball after being hit from behind while trying to make something happen halfway through the fourth quarter. 

Joseph organized two more drives for late touchdowns to make the score seem respectable, but it was all a sun-drenched illusion by that time.

The former Roughrider was 27 for 45 for 348 yards and three touchdowns.

With files from The Canadian Press