(The Canadian Press)TORONTO — On a day when the Montreal Alouettes lost their second game in a row to a CFL bottom-feeder, the Toronto Argonauts failed, in spectacular fashion, to take advantage and move into first place in the East Division. The Argonauts' 36-10 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders dropped them to 7-7, still one game behind the 8-6 Alouettes, who lost 27-22 to the last-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers earlier Monday.
The Argonauts were out of synch on offence and overwhelmed on defence. Without quarterback Ricky Ray for the third consecutive game, backup Jarious Jackson threw for just 162 yards on 16-of-31 passing. Running back Gerald Riggs Jr., filling in for the injured Chad Kackert, rushed for 56 yards on 10carries, and was on the receiving end of the Argos only touchdown pass.
"I didn't have them ready to play," said Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich, taking the blame for their third loss in four games. "This falls on me, but the only positive is we get to play again next week. We can get the taste out of mouths."
Much of the announced 25,176 in attendance at the Rogers Centre were clad in green and white and saw an explosive second-half performance from the visiting Roughriders. The Riders had to settle for a one-yard punch in by backup quarterback Drew Willy, and five Sandro DeAngelis field goals over the first 35 minutes to take a 22-10 lead.
But they put the game out of reach on impressive back-to-back drives in the third quarter; first with rookie running back Kory Sheets rushing up the middle for a 48-yard touchdown. After the Argos answered by going two-and-out, Riders quarterback Darian Durant hooked up with Weston Dressler on a 78-yard catch-and-run touchdown to make it 36-10.
The Argos produced only 213 yards of offence, and shot themselves in the foot on offence and defence by taking 17 penalties for 126 yards. Durant finished with 276 passing yards on 21-of-29 attempts. Sheets rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries.
"I can't put my finger on it [what went wrong]," Milanovich said. "They beat us. No excuses."
Sheets' touchdown run put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season, joining Calgary's Jon Cornish as the first two running backs to reach the milestone this season. The CFL rookie has been key to the Riders' turnaround as they improved to 8-6, equaling the Stampeders for second-best in the West Division. The Riders visit the Edmonton Eskimos next week.
Given the state of the lowly East Division, the Argos are still in position to play a home playoff game, either the East final if they win the division, or the East semi-final against what is likely to be the fourth-place team from the West. Next week's home game against the Alouettes will go a long way to determining both the Argos' and Alouettes' playoff fates.
"This hurts for a day but then we just prepare for next week," Milanovich said. "We have a huge game next week and we'll do what it takes to get a win."
Despite replacing Jackson with Trevor Harris in the fourth quarter, Milanovich said Jackson will remain the starter as long as Ray is recovering from his knee injury.