A record-setting performance from Ricky Ray wasn’t enough for the Toronto Argonauts to overcome the hot hands of Kevin Glenn and Duron Carter.
Carter’s highlight-reel touchdown grab was one of four touchdown passes Glenn threw on Saturday that pushed the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 38-27 victory over the Argos at Mosaic Stadium.
Carter enjoyed a breakout game in green and white and brought the sellout crowd to its feet with his spectacular one-handed catch in the end zone that evened the score at 17-17 going into halftime.
“I just knew I needed to make a play,” Carter said after his nine-reception, 131-yard, two-touchdown effort. “We were down going into halftime and I was already a little bit frustrated with how the game was going and I just told Kevin to throw it up to me and I knew I needed to catch it.”
Carter’s second touchdown of the contest, although not as jaw-dropping as the first, was a big play for the Riders, who improved to 2-3 in the West Division. Carter’s 14-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter put the home team ahead 27-24. They wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
“You can call it a breakout game,” said Carter, who managed just two catches the previous week against Calgary. “I’m just happy we won. I’ve been on a few winning teams in the CFL and I know it’s really hard to win a game.”
The Riders immediately added to their lead in the fourth quarter after they recovered the ensuing onside kick. A field goal from Tyler Crapigna extended the lead to 30-24 with nine minutes remaining.
Ray knew the Argos had to answer and they had at previous junctures of the game. Toronto marched 70 yards to Saskatchewan’s five-yard line, but that’s where the potential go-ahead scoring drive stalled. Lirim Hajrullahu kicked a 12-yard field goal and the Argos still trailed 30-27.
“We had our chance. We just came up short on that drive to take the lead and had to settle for a field goal,” Ray said. “It’s frustrating, we’re all disappointed. We all wanted the win.”
Ray became the Argos all-time leader in passing yards, eclipsing Condredge Holloway’s mark (16,619 yards).
Ray, now in his sixth season with the Argos, has 16,634 yards. Also on Saturday, Ray became the Argos’ all-time leader in passing attempts (1,988).
He completed 28-of-38 pass attempts for 386 yards and three touchdowns as his team slipped to 3-3. He connected with eight different receivers, his favourite being Anthony Coombs. Coombs had nine catches for 97 yards. S.J. Green caught six passes from Ray for 68 yards and an impressive touchdown between two defenders.
“Everybody knows Ricky Ray is a Hall of Famer and we had our hands full on defence all night,” said Riders linebacker Henoc Muamba. “We did just enough to win the game and we stopped them just enough times, especially with that drive in the fourth.”
Saskatchewan responded to the field goal with an insurance score _ a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Glenn to Caleb Holley.
Glenn has been the most consistent player for the Riders this season. He maintained his hot hand as he completed 24-of-37 pass attempts for 340 yards.
Bakari Grant was the second Riders receiver to eclipse the 100-yard mark on Saturday _ five catches for 115 yards. Naaman Roosevelt also secured a touchdown catch.
Cameron Marshall became the first Riders running back to rush for more than 100 yards this season. He had 18 carries for 110 yards.
Must-win games are rare at this point in the season, though the Riders needed a win given their daunting schedule in August.
They’ll travel to Vancouver next weekend for the first of a home-and-home set with the B.C. Lions. Following that, they’ll head to Edmonton to take on the undefeated Eskimos.
The Argos return home on Thursday to host the Calgary Stampeders.