Argos Roar Back to win Home Opener

Argos Fullback Jeff Johnson
Revenge – how sweet it is.
After losing their first game to the Calgary Stampeders two weeks ago, the Toronto Argonauts settled the score in their home opener, battling back from an 11 point deficit to knock off the Stampeders 27-24 on Wednesday night at the Rogers Centre.
On a beautiful summer night with the roof open, the Double Blue delighted their fans dramatic fashion, scoring the winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Fullback Jeff Johnson, who scored the winning touchdown, thought the team showed a lot of character in being able to come from behind and squeak out the victory.
“It’s never over until it’s over and we showed a lot of character being able to battle back,” said Johnson. “Kudos to Calgary, they were on a shorter week than we were and they came to play. We were lucky to win that game with the amount of mistakes we made early in the game. We were fortunate to come away with the win. It’s a huge win, a character win.”

Defence Comes Up Big
 
Argos Quarterback
Cleo Lemon
In comparison to their first two games of the season where Toronto surrendered 30 or more points, the Argos defence was the difference on this night. The Double Blue pressured Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris all night long forcing him to throw four interceptions. The defence not only made key stops but kept the game from getting out of hand after the Calgary scored back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter.
“I think the defensive staff had a great game plan and guys went out and executed it,” said Argos Coach, Jim Barker. “They just did a phenomenal job.”
Barker also praised his players for their effort and for their ability to battle back, especially against a team like Calgary. And more importantly, after two straight wins, his players can say that they have that winning feeling – which has been a rarity for the Argos the past two seasons.
“It gives them that feeling,” said Barker.  “We need to get that swagger, that when we go on the field we expect to win. And now we beat a team like Calgary that’s one of the elite teams in this league and came from behind to do it when they could have very easily folded.”
With winning comes confidence – a feeling that was on many players’ minds after the game.
“It builds confidence,” said quarterback Cleo Lemon. “Winning is one of those things that you just continue to roll and once you won a couple, you get that feeling and you don’t want to let it go. So the guys have a great feeling right now and we want to continue that.”
Despite guiding the offence into the Stampeders’ territory on a number of occasions, Lemon wasn’t able to put up the same type of numbers as last week when the Argos defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 36-34. The Argos instead, had to settle for four field goals but could have had more – kicker Grant Shaw missed two of his six attempts.
 
Argos wide receiver
Chad Owens catches
the ball for the
two-point conversion
Lemon was finally able to get the elusive touchdown when he handed off the ball to Johnson with 1:57 left, and even though it was just a one yard carry, he received a tremendous block from offensive tackle Rob Murphy to give him the open lane.
With the score 25-24 after the touchdown, the Argos took the necessary gamble and went for the two-point conversion. Lemon threw a lob pass into the end zone where Chad Owens, in coverage, leapt into the air and brought the ball down to increase the lead to 27-24.
From there the defence did its job and forced Calgary to lose the ball on downs. Toronto then ran down the clock for their second victory of the season.  
“It was a team win,” said Barker. “I thought our guys battled, fell behind and continued to battle and when you have character like we have in that locker room, it makes the winning that much greater.”
Toronto will remain at home where they will take on the BC Lions next Friday, July 23rd at the Rogers Centre; kickoff is 7:30pm.

Contact Aman Dhanoa at aman@oyetimes.com 

Photos courtesy of  Toronto Argonauts Football Club
 

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