Rookie Trevor Harris threw two second-half touchdown passes to lead the Toronto Argonauts to a 25-20 exhibition CFL win over the Montreal Alouettes on Tuesday afternoon.
Harris, vying for the No. 3 job behind Argos veterans Ricky Ray and Jarious Jackson, capped a 93-yard march by hitting Samie Parker on a five-yard TD strike 21 seconds into the fourth to put Toronto ahead 25-17.
He found Jessie Hubbard from nine yards out early in the third to tie the score 17-17 before Anthony Alix’s single at 9:20 put Toronto ahead 18-17.
Harris, battling former Alouette Ricky Santos for the No. 3 spot, finished 12-of-14 passing for 154 yards and the two TDs. Last week, he was 7-of-10 passing for 84 yards and a TD in Toronto’s 29-24 exhibition victory over Hamilton.
Santos played the final 10 minutes and was 2-for-2 passing for 22 yards.
Travon Patterson and Brandon Whitaker scored touchdowns for Montreal (0-2). Sean Whyte added the converts and two field goals.
Canadian Kyle Quinlan, who led McMaster to the Vanier Cup last year, was the last of four quarterbacks to play for Montreal. Quinlan’s first CFL pass was a 41-yard completion to Felton Huggins that put the Alouettes at the Toronto 46-yard line with under two minutes remaining. But Quinlan’s third-down incompletion forced Montreal to turn the ball over on downs and he 1-of-3 passing.
Hubbard’s TD came three plays after Toronto recovered a fumble by Montreal rookie quarterback Josh Neiswander. Toronto’s ravaged receiving corps took another hit on the drive as Djems Kouame was carted off with a left leg injury, further depleting a unit already missing Maurice Mann, Jason Barnes and Andre Durie to injury.
Pacino Horne had the other touchdown for Toronto (2-0). Noel Prefontaine booted a convert and field goal while Alix added a convert and single.
It was the final preseason tuneup for both teams. Toronto opens the 2012 season in Edmonton on June 30 while Montreal will visit Calgary on July 1.
But playing Tuesday gives Toronto and Montreal extra time to ponder their final lineup changes. CFL teams have until Saturday to reduce their rosters from 65 to the 46-man limit.
While the contest was a preseason affair, an enthusiastic Rogers Centre gathering of 36,214 certainly gave it the feel of one that counted in the standings. The vast majority of the fans were school kids who definitely were in the game from the opening kickoff, cheering loudly and pounding their ThunderStix frantically.
And with the Rogers Centre roof closed — to prevent the threat of sunburn or heat stroke with the hot, humid conditions outside — the noise continually echoed throughout the stadium. The crowd also featured a man dressed entirely in a blue spandex suit, mimicking the Green Men, the merry pranksters who have become synonymous with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.
Sadly, Toronto gave its fans precious little to cheer about in the first half, thanks to three turnovers and nine penalties.
Ray was just 3-of-7 passing for 27 yards and two interceptions — including one on Toronto’s first offensive play from scrimmage before giving way to Jackson early in the second quarter. Ray, the Argos’ marquee off-season acquisition, was just 8-of-15 passing in the pre-season for 99 yards with the two picks.
Trouble was, he got little support as Toronto was plagued by penalties and miscues. Horne’s special-teams gem pulled the Argos into a 10-10 tie late in the half but Adrian McPherson’s 12-yard TD strike to Patterson at 12:03 of the second earned Montreal a 17-10 half-time lead.
Montreal starter Anthony Calvillo, seeing his first action of the pre-season, was 7-of-11 passing for 55 yards before giving way to McPherson late in the opening quarter. Whitaker’s 16-yard TD run opened the scoring in the first before a Toronto contacting the kicker penalty led to Whyte’s 42-yard field goal at 2:52 of the second.
Jackson engineered Toronto’s lone scoring drive of the half, marching the offence 45 yards on eight plays before Prefontaine finished it off with a 48-yard field goal at 12:04. Horne then brought the home crowd to its feet, first by blocking Whyte’s attempted punt, then recovering the ball and running in for the nine-yard TD at 13:08 to make it 10-10.
But McPherson capped a five-play, 73-yard drive by finding Patterson in the end zone with 53 seconds remaining. Montreal recovered a Quincy Hurst fumble off a 52-yard kickoff return and drove to the Toronto 37-yard line but Whyte missed from 44 yards out to end the half.