TORONTO -- Ricky Ray outduelled Henry Burris and earned the Toronto Argonauts a wild season-opening victory.
Ray threw four TD passes to rally Toronto to a 39-34 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night. Ray's 10-yard touchdown toss to Dontrelle Inman at 9:49 of the fourth quarter gave the Argos their winning margin in a track meet that featured 51 first downs and 1,000 total offensive yards but still came down to the final play.
Burris drove Hamilton from its 44-yard to the Toronto 13 in the final 30 seconds on completions to Greg Ellingson and Onrea Jones. But rookie running back C.J. Gable dropped a screen pass that had he held on to, had a clear path to the end zone. Still, the Ticats had one final gasp with three seconds left at the Argos' eight-yard line following a penalty, but Andy Fantuz couldn't hold onto Burris's throw in the end zone.
"I don't know how many times in my career I've been on the sidelines watching Henry Burris lead a last-minute drive," Ray said. "But sacking him twice and then the big breakup in the end zone at the end, those were huge."
A new-look Argos defence with seven new starters struggled in the first half against Hamilton, which led 31-25 at halftime. Burris was a big reason for that, passing for 207 yards and three TDs but he said the Ticats should've put the defending Grey Cup champions away much earlier.
"It should not have come down to that play at the end, we left a lot of plays on the field," Burris said. "We were right there but we sputtered when we had the opportunities.
"We let it slip away when we had the chance to steal it."
Toronto's defence still allowed 199 second-half yards but only three-second half points. And the unit sacked Burris on consecutive plays, forcing Hamilton to punt with three minutes remaining and trailing by five points.
"We talked at halftime about staying together and how football games aren't won by players but by teams that play together with one heartbeat," Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said. "Our guys stayed together and that was an encouraging thing because we have many new guys.
"The fact they didn't start pointing fingers and trying to cover their own butts was a positive."
-- The Canadian Press