Making his first CFL start in over two years, veteran backup Jarious Jackson filled in admirably for the Argonauts.
Jackson ran for one touchdown and passed for another as Toronto scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter Saturday to defeat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 29-10.
“I’m really proud of him, he did a great job,” Argos coach Scott Milanovich said of Jackson, who was making his first start since Ricky Ray went down last week in Montreal.
“By the time we got to the fourth quarter we had it pretty well under control and Jarious just managed the clock at that point.”
Jackson, who finished 17-for-28 and 155 yards passing, was reticent about taking too much credit.
“I’m definitely happy about the win but there’s a lot of things I can improve on and get better at,” he said.
“This is one to grow on.”
The Argos (7-6) snapped a two-game losing streak but for the Bombers (3-10), it was a crushing loss.
They failed to break a pattern that has seen them unable to win back-to-back games all season and this loss seemed to deal a near-fatal blow to any hope of a playoff shot.
And to top it off, they lost starting quarterback Buck Pierce for half the game after a helmet hit to the chin. Coach Tim Burke couldn’t rule out the possibility of a concussion, only two games into Pierce’s return from a foot injury in July.
“Late in the second quarter he developed a headache,” said Burke.
“I think all of us here would have a headache if we got drilled in the chin by a helmet. For precautionary purposes we took him out of the game, because you don’t know if that means it’s more severe than just a headache.”
The first quarter pretty well sealed Winnipeg’s fate. The Argos had possession of the ball for 12:28 to just 2:32 for Winnipeg.
The Argos also had to thank the Bombers and the officials for the three penalties that kept Toronto’s first drive alive on the Winnipeg goal line.
The Bombers weren’t happy about some of the calls.
Burke stayed mum: “You know if I were to say it was unjustified I’d get fined, so I’ll leave it at that.”
Defensive back Johnathan Hefney, however, was a little more direct.
“It was small petty calls but at the same time we kept on fighting and just tried to forget about what they called on the first drive,” he said.
A pass interference call on a ball that was nowhere near the intended receiver was just one example.
“In my mind they were [bad]. They gave them a touchdown.”
Jackson finally ran it over just past the seven-minute mark to conclude a 15-play drive that occupied half the quarter.
Burke said in the end, fumbles, dropped passes and turnovers cost Winnipeg the game.
“We can’t drop balls when we have guys wide open and the ball’s delivered to them. . . . We did have way too many turnovers.
“I think we were in scoring position several times and four times we turned the ball over.”
Marcus Ball intercepted a Buck Pierce pass less than two minutes after the Argos’ first touchdown to make it 14-0.
The Bombers thought they had returned the favour on a 67-yard fumble return by Kenny Mainor, but even though the convert was kicked the play was reviewed and Jackson’s bobble was ruled an incomplete pass.
That hit that knocked Pierce from the game came from Brandon Isaac and earned a roughing the passer call. Pierce left the field at the end of the quarter.
Joey Elliott came in for a few plays before Pierce was able to return, although he would leave again later.
The Bombers were more successful in the second quarter, picking up a touchdown on Pierce’s 20-yard pass to Terrence Edwards and a 20-yard field goal from Justin Palardy.
But the Argos picked up another three points from Swayze Waters to make it 24-10 at the half.
He added another in the third as Elliott replaced Pierce for the rest of the game.
Toronto added a couple of singles in the fourth. The Bombers best drives ended when Elliott’s passes into the endzone were intercepted twice, the last with no time left on the clock.
“Offensively we didn’t play very well,” Elliot said.
“We put ourselves in a hole in the first half. We’ve been a better team playing in front. We don’t like to play behind offensively. We like to establish the run. During the second half we got pass happy.”
Elliott completed 20 out of 30 passes for 173 yards but he also threw three interceptions.
He refused to write off their playoff hopes just yet.
“You’ve got to keep going. You never know. You can only take care of your team and your games.
Notes: Toronto receiver/returner Chad Owens passed the 3,000 all-purpose yards mark for the third time in three years.