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Ray throws for 407 yards in home debut as Argos down Stamps

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The Canadian Press
7/7/2012 9:57:27 PM
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TORONTO -- Ricky Ray made a memorable home debut Saturday afternoon.

The veteran quarterback threw for 407 yards and two TDs but it was a crucial 36-yard completion to Andre Durie that set up Noel Prefontaine's 28-yard field goal with no time left and earned the Toronto Argonauts a thrilling 39-36 home-opening win over the Calgary Stampeders.

"It was a weird game because there were a lot of mistakes, a lot of great plays and it was pretty exciting," Ray said. "But for us to stay together and get through adversity and get the win is huge, especially in our home opener.

"I was able to step up inside the pressure and found Andre over the middle. He's one of those guys you get the ball into his hands he's going to make some plays and was able to do that and get us into field goal range."

Toronto (1-1) earned its fourth straight win over Calgary (1-1), which has dropped nine of its last 11 games at Rogers Centre.

After Calgary tied the score 36-36, rookie Chandler Williams returned the kickoff 34 yards to the Toronto 47. Ray then found Durie on a completion to the Stampeders' 27-yard line, and after runs by both Boyd (six yards) and Ray (no yards), Prefontaine calmly connected with the game-winning field goal.

"The feeling was still good because it was a tie game," Ray said. "It's not like we went down and felt like we had to go out and make some extraordinary plays.

"They (kickoff return team) put us in good field position and we just needed to be smart with the football but get ourselves up into scoring position. We were able to do that the first play and that was big for us."

That was sweet redemption for Prefontaine, who had six in the game but his lone miss from 36 yards out was returned 125 yards for a TD by Calgary's Larry Taylor at 3:15 of the fourth. That allowed the visitors to tie the score 29-29.

Prefontaine also missed two-of-three field goals he tried in last week's 19-15 road loss in Edmonton.

"There are some things in the game I'd like to have back that I didn't do well," Prefontaine said. "But you keep your head down and keep playing and deal with whatever happens . . . good or bad, you stay even-keeled.

"You don't get too high and you don't get too low. After 15 years that's one thing I've learned."

Prefontaine's field goal capped a roller-coaster fourth before a sparse Rogers Centre gathering of 20,682 that saw Toronto go ahead 36-29 on Ray's 15-yard touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman -- their second TD hookup in the contest. But following Taylor's 64-yard punt return Glenn, who came into the game when starter Drew Tate suffered a shoulder injury in the first, threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Nik Lewis at 13:52.

The win was hardly a work of art, but it still was Scott Milanovich's first as a CFL head coach and afterwards his players presented him with the game ball.

"A lot to clean up," he said. "I don't know if I am a sentimental guy but I will keep the ball.

"As a head coach you only ever get one first win and this will be something I hold on to."

Calgary lost more than the game, though, as Tate is out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury. He was hurt rolling out to his left to open the Stampeders' second possession when he put his left arm down to brace himself while being hit by Toronto's Derrick Summers.

Tate remained down for some time before walking off the field, then to the Calgary dressing room. He was replaced by the veteran Glenn but returned to the Stampeders' sideline in the second, his left arm in a sling and ice wrapped to his left shoulder.

"I just slipped," said Tate, who capped Calgary's game-opening 69-yard, seven-play scoring drive with a four-yard TD strike to Rob Cote. "I'm pretty disappointed, yes, but the way responded shows the character of this team."

Stampeders head coach/GM John Hufnagel said the club won't learn the full extent of Tate's injury until he returns to Calgary while the team heads to Kingston, Ont., to prepare to face the Alouettes in Montreal on Thursday night.

"Sloppy play is my biggest concern right now," Hufnagel said. "Larry Taylor gave us a spark, gave us hope.

"Kevin make some plays for us. He made a perfect throw to get us back into the game. He hung in there and rallied us from some mistakes."

Glenn finished 15-of-19 passing for 172 yards and two TDs, but also had two interceptions and mishandled a handoff with tailback Jon Cornish that resulted in a fumble recover for Toronto. Lewis had seven receptions for 95 yards and two TDs and the tying two-point convert.

But Ray and the Argos' offence completely overshadowed Glenn and Co., outgaining Calgary 518-257 in net offence. Durie finished with 10 catches for 118 yards while Inman had three receptions for 107 yards.

Toronto also outran the Stampeders 118 yards to 57, with Cory Boyd responsible for 101 yards and a TD on the ground.

"The balance really helped us out," Ray said. "We really need that over the course of the year because you need good balance on offence to keep the defence honest."

Ray's performance was hardly surprising to Milanovich.

"Two weeks ago everyone was concerned about Ricky," he said. "But there was a comfort level from the coaching staff because we had seen what was happening in practice.

"It's starting to translate to the game field for us so that's an encouraging thing."

If there is a concern, though, it's that Toronto's offence all too often had to settle for field goals after stalling in the red zone.

"It seemed every time we were coming away with points but in the back of your mind you're thinking, 'We're only getting three on these, we need to get some touchdowns,"' Ray said. "You could see a couple touchdowns and they're back in the game.

"We just have to do a better job of finishing those drives."

Eric Fraser, on 61-yard interception return, had Calgary's other touchdown. Rene Paredes booted four converts.

NOTES: At halftime, the 1971 Argos squad was recognized. Among the members of the team present were quarterback Joe Theismann and head coach Leo Cahill. The '71 Argos lost in the Grey Cup that game to Calgary . . . . Running back Chad Kackert and defensive lineman Kevin Huntley didn't dress for Toronto while veteran snapper Randy Chevrier was among Calgary's scratches.



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