Ricky Ray’s brilliance ruins the Riders remarkable comeback

Ricky Ray wasn’t spectacular until it really mattered but his brilliance was enough to send the Toronto Argonauts to the Grey Cup courtesy of a 25-21 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Ray drove the Argos down the field with the game on the line, completing six-of-seven passes including a nervy third-down conversion and virtually impossible throw between four defenders to set up the game winning score.

The win ruined the Saskatchewan Roughriders remarkable comeback, capped by Christion Jones’ 79-yard punt return touchdown with just under three minutes remaining. The Riders overcame three first-half interceptions by quarterback Kevin Glenn and stormed back from a 15-point deficit but ultimately fell short.

Canadian Brandon Bridge took over from Glenn and sparked the Rider resuregence. It wasn’t a particularly well-played game but it was certainly high on drama.

The Argonauts moved the ball into Saskatchewan territory on the opening possession but the Riders defence stopped a third-and-one run inside their own 30 for the game’s first turnover.

Much as he did early in the Eastern semi-final win over Ottawa last week, Saskatchewan quarterback Kevin Glenn started hot, getting good protection and marching the Riders down the field on their first opportunity with the football. Tyler Crapigna connected on a 16-yard field goal to give the visitors an early lead.

The Riders got a second turnover in the opening quarter but this time squandered the opportunity in the most dramatic way possible: Glenn, with pressure in his face, threw an interception to Argo linebacker Terrence Plummer who returned it for a major. Saskatchewan head coach Chris Jones used his only challenge looking for roughing passer but was unsuccessful.

Glenn was pulled just over four minutes into the second, replaced by Canadian Brandon Bridge. He came back into the game late in the half… and promptly threw another interception. And another. Glenn finished the first 30 minutes with 87 yards on six of 13 passing and the three picks.

The Argos had their own turnover problems – they committed three as well – but were able to post an offensive touchdown late in second quarter, Ray throwing a beautiful ball to Devir Posey along the right sideline. Toronto took a 17-3 lead into the break.

The Argos put together a nice drive to open the third but Lirim Hajrullahu missed a 42-yard field and settled for one. Bridge was back at the controls for the Riders but struggled to get much going offensively as the Argonauts defensive line managed to get steady pressure.

But Bridge finally got things going early in the fourth, putting together a nice six-play drive and capping it with an 11-yard toss to Duron Carter for a touchdown that cut the Toronto just eight. The Argos looked to respond but Devir Posey dropped a long pass from Ray and Toronto was forced to punt.

Bridge drove the Riders deep into Toronto territory again but Jones elected to kick a 28-yard field goal instead of going for it on third and almost two. Crapigna made 18-13 with just over five minutes to go.
Jones went 79 yards to pay dirt to complete the comeback, putting the Riders up three with just under three to play.

But Ray was virtually flawless on the final drive and Cody Fajardo punched it in for the winning score.

Notes: the announced crowd was 24,929, the largest ever for a Toronto Argonauts game at BMO Field… Bridge’s fourth quarter touchdown pass was the first by a Canadian since Russ Jackson in the 1969 Grey Cup.

Drew Edwards is the founder of 3DownNation but has since wandered off. Beard in the photo not exactly as shown.