Just when it looked like the Toronto Argonauts were finally going to get a win at home, Jarious Jackson and the B.C. Lions stole one Friday night.
Jackson threw two touchdowns in a wild 22-point fourth quarter to rally the Lions to a stunning 36-38 win over Toronto, extending the Argos’ home losing streak to nine games.
Toronto (2-5) went into the fourth leading 25-14 but Jackson threw a five-yard TD strike to Paris Jackson at 2:47 before finding Emmanuel Arcenaux on a 23-yard scoring pass at 11:22 to pull B.C. to within 28-26. The game would’ve been tied had the Lions kicked the converts instead of going twice for two-point conversions.
But that didn’t matter as Jackson – who twice came off the bench in the game – led B.C. (3-4) to the miracle finish, guiding his club on a 54-yard, eight-play march to the Toronto one-yard line. There, Sean Whyte hit the nine-yard game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining, stunning the Rogers Centre gathering of 24,754.
“I’m not going to apologize for playing well in the second half,” said Lions head coach Wally Buono, who recorded his 230th career victory, leaving him two short of surpassing Don Matthews as the winningest coach in CFL history. “If we play any kind of football in the first half maybe we don’t have to do this.
“That’s football. Nobody asks you at the end of the day whether you stole a win, they ask you how many games did you win? The game is 60 minutes.”
Ryan Phillips rounded out the scoring by intercepting Reggie McNeal’s attempted lateral and returning it 20 yards for the TD on the game’s final play.
Jackson salvaged an otherwise tough night for Lions quarterbacks as injuries and ineffective play forced B.C. to play all three they had dressed.
Buck Pierce started and was 2-of-3 passing for 37 yards before leaving early in the first quarter with a suspected concussion after throwing an interception. He was replaced by Jackson, who struggled moving the offence in the first half – completing 10-of-16 passes for 81 yards – before being replaced by third-stringer Travis Lulay to start the second half.
Jackson re-entered the game in the third after Lulay was injured on a run and proceeded to hit Paris Jackson on a 35-yard TD at 12:28 of the third to cut Toronto’s lead to 22-14. The Argos countered with a field goal on the final play of the quarter for a 25-14 advantage.
“I don’t feel like we stole one at all,” Jackson said. “I feel like we went out and played like we should’ve played in the second half.
“Most of the first half we were trying to manage the game, trying to see what they were doing defensively. Offensively, you definitely want to manage the game until you know what the defence is going to call in some situations. It took us the first half but I think in the second half we kind of were able to predict what they were going to do and I think we did a good job of countering it.”
Jackson finished 21-of-31 passing for 254 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Paris Jackson was the club’s leading receiver with six catches for 122 yards and two TDs.
The loss tarnished a solid performance by Toronto quarterback Cody Pickett and kicker Justin Medlock. Pickett, replacing incumbent Kerry Joseph after last week’s embarrassing 25-0 loss to Montreal, was 25-of-40 passing for 326 yards and a TD. Medlock finished with a team record-tying seven field goals.
Pickett was able to move the offence and did a nice job of managing the game. Under Pickett, the Argos offence rolled up 334 total yards and gave up two sacks – they surrendered seven versus Montreal – against a Lions defence that came in ranked second in the CFL in the category.
But the Argos couldn’t cap more drives with touchdowns, which kept the Lions in the game despite being outplayed. Pickett did hit McNeal with an 12-yard TD strike that would’ve put the Argos ahead 32-20 about midway through the fourth, but it came back due to a holding penalty and the home team settled for another Medlock field goal and an eight-point lead.
“It’s 20/20 that we needed to score another touchdown,” Picket said. “Whatever we’re doing right now isn’t getting the job done.”
Argos head coach Bart Andrus had nothing but praise for Pickett, but said his team has to score more touchdowns and not rely so heavily on Medlock for points.
“That was an ideal performance,” Andrus said. “Cody threw it well, was accurate and didn’t turn it over.
“The bottom line is we didn’t finish that one. When we do get it right for 60 minutes, it’s going to be a great thing.”
There certainly was a connection between Pickett and receiver Chad Lucas, who had eight catches for 146 yards.
In addition to losing their ninth straight at Rogers Centre, the Argos have also lost nine straight to the Lions.
Andrus is 0-3 at Rogers Centre as well.
McNeal scored Toronto’s touchdown. Medlock added the convert.
Rolly Lumbala had B.C.’s other touchdown. Whyte also added three converts.