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Lions no match for rookie Collaros, Argos defence

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Toronto Argonauts quarterback Zach Collaros impressed in his first pro start against the B.C. Lions on Tuesday, throwing for 253 yards on 21-of-25 passing.

FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Toronto Argonauts quarterback Zach Collaros impressed in his first pro start against the B.C. Lions on Tuesday, throwing for 253 yards on 21-of-25 passing.

TORONTO -- Zach Collaros threw three touchdown passes in his first professional start Tuesday as the Toronto Argonauts defeated the B.C. Lions 38-12.

Starting in place of the injured Ricky Ray, the second-year quarterback showed tremendous poise under pressure against the CFL's No. 1-ranked defence, throwing for 253 yards on 21-of-25 passing.

The 24-year-old University of Cincinnati product, who spread the ball around to eight different receivers, also rushed eight times for 28 yards.

Despite his impressive debut, Collaros was quick to share the glory.

"I thought we played a great game. I thought in the second half, our offensive line really took their will away," he said. "Beating a great team like the B.C. Lions is awesome and hopefully we can build on this."

Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich said the "moment wasn't too big" for Collaros.

"I gave him a couple pointers throughout the game and he told me, 'Coach I'm way ahead of you,"' Milanovich said with a chuckle. "That's just the way he was tonight."

Meanwhile, the Argonauts bend-but-not break defence stymied Lions quarterback Travis Lulay and a B.C. offence that was toothless in the red zone.

With the victory, Toronto (3-2) snapped a six-game losing streak against B.C. (3-2).

Jason Barnes, Alexander Robinson and John Chiles caught TD passes for Toronto in front of a crowd of 20,064 at Rogers Centre, while rookie running back Curtis Steele, in the lineup for the injured Chad Kackert, rushed 12 times for 74 yards and two late TDs.

Lulay was 20-of-30 passing for 226 yards with an interception, while Paul MacCallum kicked four field goals for B.C. to move into fourth all-time on the CFL scoring list.

Toronto led 14-6 at halftime and never looked back on a rare Tuesday night game that concluded an awkward Week 5 of the CFL schedule.

After the Argonauts held B.C. to a field goal on their first possession of the second half, Collaros built on his two-touchdown first-half performance with another in the third to make the score 21-6.

The 12-play, 58-yard drive included a roughing the passer that helped set up Collaros' 23-yard touchdown pass to Chiles.

The Lions offence responded with a 10-play, 86-yard drive that was helped by a 40-yard pass completion from Lulay to Nick Moore, but Toronto's defence again held firm and forced a 10-yard MacCallum field goal that cut the Argonauts' lead to 21-12.

A 24-yard-field goal from Noel Prefontaine at 4:31 of the fourth then stretched Toronto's edge to 12.

The Lions were in scoring range again midway through the quarter, but the Toronto defence stepped up with another big play as Shane Horton recovered an Andrew Harris fumble inside the Argonauts' 25-yard line.

Lulay then fumbled deep in Lions territory and Steele went up and over for his first CFL touchdown with 2:24 left to play. Steele added another TD run with under a minute to play from 11 yards out after the Lions failed to convert on a third down.

Toronto was without Ray and Kackert, who are both nursing knee injuries.

-- The Canadian Press

 

The Argonauts have a bye next week and hope to have Ray back for their next game, a home date with the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 8 at Rogers Centre. Kackert is expected to be out four to six weeks.

Trailing 3-0 late in the first quarter, Toronto linebacker Marcus Ball intercepted a Lulay pass to set up the Argonauts' first TD, a 22-yard strike from Collaros to Barnes that came just over two minutes into the second. On the scoring play, Collaros dropped back to pass and avoided the rush of the oncoming Adam Bighill to find Barnes between two defenders.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 31, 2013 D3

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