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Toronto Argos lose barnburner to B.C. Lions, 28-23


BEN NELMS/REUTERS Lions receiver Shawn Gore tries to break a tackle by Argos’ Pat Watkins Saturday night in Vancouver.

VANCOUVER—In a game where the Argonauts wanted to make a statement they certainly did, but a fourth-quarter comeback fell just short in a 28-23 loss to the B.C. Lions on Saturday.

QB Ricky Ray’s last-minute drive ended when he tried to run from the pocket on a third and 10 and the ball got knocked out of his hands as the announced crowd of 28,256 let out a deafening roar inside B.C. Place.

It would have been an improbable ending had Toronto managed to pull this one out because for most of the game, Ray couldn’t generate much offence.

But it was a different story in the fourth quarter for Toronto, whose record dropped to 6-5 with their next game against the Montreal Alouettes next Sunday.

The Argos couldn’t contain QB Travis Lulay for most of the game and when they got close he scrambled out of harm’s way and had plenty of time to throw while Ray was constantly under pressure and rarely found anybody open.

Incredibly, the Argos still had a chance. Ray hit Chad Owens with a 52-yard TD strike with under five minutes to play that made the score 28-23. Earlier in the fourth quarter, a holding call by Maurice Mann nullified a 62-yard TD to Spencer Watt. The Argos had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Swayze Waters. Another 45-yard pass to Watt gave Toronto the ball on the Lions’ 30-yard line but Toronto again had to settle for a 37-yard field goal.

In the end, Ray hit on 19 of 38 passes for 310 yards and didn’t throw an interception. Lulay was 29 of 40 for 390 yards.

With Chad Kackert sidelined with a leg injury, rookie running back Gerald Riggs Jr. ran for 39 yards on five carries and caught three passes for 35 yards.

Lions fullback Rolly Lumbala plunged in from the one-yard line to give B.C. the 12-point lead with seven minutes to play in a game where Geroy Simon had more than 100 yards in receiving.

Lions took an 18-7 lead into the second half, extending their lead with a 19-yard TD pass to Arland Bruce with just five seconds left in the second quarter. The former Argo got in behind cornerback Ahmad Carroll for the score. Lulay marched 101 yards down the field in less than two minutes, his big play, a 48-yard strike to Shawn Gore, who sped between Jordan Younger and Evan McCollough.

Argos actually led 7-1 after the first quarter on their strangest touchdown of the season. Lions running back Andrew Harris caught a 10-yard pass from Lulay but the ball was knocked out of his hands by defensive back Pacino Horne and straight into the arms of Toronto defensive tackle Kevin Huntley. The 6-foot-8, 299-pound Huntley then rumbled down the sideline for 55 yards.

But five yards before the goal line, the Lions’ Marco Iannuzzi punched the ball out of his hands. As it rolled towards the goal line, Argos linebacker Matt Black picked it up and ran it into the end zone for the TD.

On the next series, Carroll intercepted his third pass in as many games at midfield but Toronto failed to capitalize as Ray was sacked by Anthony Reddick and Keron Williams and Toronto was forced to punt.

A 32-yard field goal by McCallum brought the Lions with three points and looked to take the lead for the first time but Tim Brown’s 83-yard punt return for a TD was called back for an illegal block at their own 42-yard line. It didn’t matter as Lulay connected with Gore for a 39-yard pass and run TD to give the Lions an 11-7 lead before Bruce’s catch increased their first-half lead to 11 points.

thestar.com – Sports