Saturday, June 16, 2018
The Toronto Argonauts kicked off their 2018 campaign on Friday with hopes of repeating as back-to-back Grey Cup Champions.
Former Argonauts quarterback, Zach Collaros, was looking to make a resurgence after a downward trend had previously seen him lose his starting gig in Hamilton. It was a mediocre debut at best, although he did achieve the desired result.
Following a slow start and a pair of conceded punts from either side, Brett Lauther knocked down the first field goal of the day to give his Roughriders a 3-1 advantage early in the second quarter. Saskatchewan was able to build upon their momentum in the coming drives and soon saw Zach Collaros throw his first touchdown as a member of the Roughriders, which would stand as his only of the game.
Collaros connected with Naaman Roosevelt for a 13-yard strike and soon the home team had a commanding 11-1 lead after the extra point.
Both Saskatchewan and Toronto would go on to trade field goals from 43 and 35-yards, respectively, to send the Roughriders into halftime with a 10-point lead at 14-4.
As the action resumed in the second half, Ronnie Pfeffer forced another conceded single point but was followed up by another field goal off the boot of Brett Lauther. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Argos were trailing 17-5 and desperately needed to string together a series of plays…
Ricky Ray stepped his game up and drove his double blues down the field until being stopped at the opposition’s 1-yard line, which is where the short-yardage specialist, James Franklin, entered the game and punched it in for a sneaky touchdown. The crucial play meant Saskatchewan’s lead was dwindling and stood at 17-12 after the extra point.
Just when you thought the Argos might turn this ship around, their fortunes reversed as Ricky Ray surrendered a blatant interception to Nick Marshall on the other side of the ball which Saskatchewan converted into a pick-6 touchdown. Marshall ran the ball back the entire length of the field for a 66-yard return, furthering their lead to 12-points.
Trailing 24-12, Toronto managed to cross the plain once more as a result of James Franklin’s first touchdown pass of the season, a 2-yard strike, to make it a one-score game late in the fourth quarter. Ronnie Pfeffer nailed the extra point to make it 24-19 in favour of the Roughriders.
Although the Argonauts made a valiant push and trailed by just 5-points, Brett Lauther would put the game out of reach in the dying minutes courtesy of a 32-yard field goal, which closed out the game by a final score of 27-19.
Zach Collaros finished the night with 18/25 completions (72%) for 203 yards and a single touchdown in his Roughriders debut in front of an always raucous crowd at Mosaic Stadium. On the other hand, his counterpart, Ricky Ray, had a rough start to the season after posting statistics on par with the very best years of his career just a season ago. Although 22/37 (59.5%) for 233 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception certainly does not look pretty, you can never count out the future Hall of Famer this early.
The Argos will have to get back to the drawing board and regroup for a gruelling Week 2 matchup with the Calgary Stampeders. Kickoff is set at 7:00 p.m. EST on Saturday at BMO Field in Toronto.
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Photo Credit: @TorontoArgos