Roughriders lose third straight as Argonauts hold on for win
The Saskatchewan Roughriders once again couldn't recover from an early deficit.
They were down 14-0 in the first quarter and for the second straight week had a chance to win late but couldn't find a way into the end zone. The Toronto Argonauts clinched second in the East Division and home field advantage with a 31-26 victory.
Ricky Ray threw four touchdown passes including two to Maurice Mann.
The Riders had a chance to take the lead at the start of the third quarter after Tristan Jackson returned the kickoff 77-yards to the Argos 13-yard line. The Riders couldn't find the end zone as the ball slipped out of Darian Durant's hand with Kory Sheets open.
"He was trying to throw it to me, I was wide open in the flat," said Sheets. "Other wise we would of had six points."
Sandro DeAngelis followed that up by missing a 17-yard field to make the game 21-17. A touchdown would have given the Riders a two-point lead.
On the Argonauts next possession, Ray found Chad Owens down the sideline and he broke a tackle on the 60-yard catch and run for the touchdown.
The Riders did give themselves a chance to win after scoring a late touchdown to Weston Dressler to make the score 28-26. They went for two to tie and Durant found Dressler open again but the usually reliable Dressler had the ball slip through his fingers.
"When you don't make those plays, you just feel like you're letting the team down," said Dressler.
After Toronto added a field goal, the Riders had the ball with under two minutes to go and that's when the officials started to have an impact.
Durant was sacked twice with both hits looking as though he took an illegal shot to the head, however, both plays did not result in penalties.
The first hit from Brandon Isaac was a text book helmet to helmet hit, while Armond Armstrong appeared to have grabbed Durant's head as he sacked him two plays later.
"If helmet to helmet is a rule, if grabbing a facemask is rule, then it's a penalty," said Durant. "I don't think there's anything borderline about that."
Despite the two non-calls the Riders did have the ball at midfield with 24 seconds left but Durant was intercepted by Evan McCollough to seal the victory for the Argonauts.
The Riders fall to 8-9 record and will finish the regular season in B.C. next Saturday.
This game could be a preview of the East Semi-Final as the Argonauts will host either the Hamilton Tiger-Cats or the Western crossover team, which is either going to be Saskatchewan or Edmonton.
Chad Owens had 211 combined yards which leaves him 73-yards shy of Michael 'Pinball' Clemons CFL record for total yards in a season (3,840). Owens now also leads the league in receiving yards after 104-yards against the Riders. Saskatchewan's Weston Dressler now trails Owens and Calgary's Nik Lewis after leading the way heading into the week.
Dressler was named the team's Most Valuable Player as voted by the fans and Neal Hughes received the team's community service award.