HOME RUN

Mis­sis­sauga’s Bran­don Bridge comes off the bench as Riders rally past Arg­onauts:

Sunday Sports - - FRONT PAGE - FRANK ZICARELLI fzi­carelli@post­media.com

There are all kinds of ex­cuses to delve into fol­low­ing the Arg­onauts’ 27-24 loss to the vis­it­ing Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers on Satur­day.

But in the grand scheme of things, they amount to noth­ing to Ar­gos head coach Marc Trest­man, who has been around foot­ball long enough to know that ex­cuses ring hollow in de­feat, no mat­ter how valid they may ap­pear.

Trest­man wasn’t blam­ing the of­fi­cials, though a strong case can be made for it, and he wasn’t hid­ing be­hind any of the is­sues that plagued the Ar­gos on this af­ter­noon.

Trest­man squarely pointed the fin­ger in­ward.

“In the big pic­ture, we did not play well enough of­fen­sively,” he said. “We could have scored more points and we didn’t. We didn’t play well de­fen­sively when we needed to stop them.

“Those were re­ally the two key fac­tors. Some were penalty-re­lated and oth­ers were to our own way.”

Trest­man, even with­out the ben­e­fit of watch­ing game film, of­ten cuts to the chase fol­low­ing a game, re­gard­less if the Ar­gos end up win­ning or los­ing.

Toronto’s de­feat — sealed by an 18-yard Tyler Crapigna field goal with seven sec­onds re­main­ing — ended a three­game win­ning streak and pre­vented the Dou­ble Blue from lock­ing up a post-sea­son berth.

The Ar­gos lost be­cause the of­fence set­tled for too many field goals in the open­ing half, then gen­er­ated just one point — a punt sin­gle — when it had the wind in the third quar­ter.

The Ar­gos lost be­cause their de­fence ap­plied no pres­sure on Roughrid­ers quar­ter­back Bran­don Bridge, the 25-year-old Mis­sis­sauga na­tive who came on in relief of a strug­gling Kevin Glenn and the visi­tors trail­ing 13-3.

Too many penal­ties didn’t help, ei­ther.

The Ar­gos weren’t clean and while the Riders weren’t ex­actly ex­e­cut­ing at a high level, they made enough plays to win.

Saskatchewan lacked dis­ci­pline, but drew in­spi­ra­tion from Bridge and the kid would de­liver.

The Riders pro­duced some big plays, while the Ar­gos were lim­ited.

“We just couldn’t find the ex­plo­sive play,’’ said Trest­man. “We couldn’t find them in the wind be­cause we were pe­nal­ized. It wasn’t a big fac­tor, but it was enough where we had to be care­ful.

“We just couldn’t find any ex­plo­sions to re­ally put us in a po­si­tion to get some quick scores.”

Lirim Ha­jrul­lahu’s third field goal of the sec­ond quar­ter with 2:03 to go in the half gave the Ar­gos a 16-3 lead. But then mo­men­tum began to swing. Us­ing quick throws and run­ning a hurry-up of­fence, Bridge used nine plays to go 75 yards, cap­ping the drive with an eight-yard TD strike to Naa­man Roo­sevelt with 12 sec­onds left.

Bridge threw zero picks, while Ray was in­ter­cepted once.

Trent Richard­son, who was mak­ing his CFL de­but, was a non-fac­tor, but he didn’t have to be on this day with Bridge carv­ing up Toronto’s de­fence, which was un­der­manned and at times over­matched.

What hurt the Ar­gos was the lack of a pass rush.

Bridge has a ri­fle for an arm and he’ll com­plete balls on the run.

As he evolves, he’ll go deeper into his pro­gres­sion.

The loss of Mar­cus Ball and Bear Woods was no­tice­able, es­pe­cially Ball’s ab­sence and his abil­ity to at­tack the back­field and drop into cov­er­age.

Cleyon Laing, who starts at tackle, was also a late scratch.

Trest­man would ad­mit that Woods was cleared to play, but the head coach wanted his vet­eran mid­dle line­backer to get that ex­tra rest be­fore Toronto next plays Satur­day in Ed­mon­ton.

In the fourth quar­ter, the Ar­gos lost start­ing half­back Bran­don Har­ris.

The Ar­gos suf­fered an­other loss with five min­utes left in the game when, trail­ing 27417, run­ning back James Wilder Jr. took a vi­cious shot to the head area. Wilder left un­der his own power and was co­her­ent fol­low­ing the game.

Be­fore he left, Wilder ran hard and the Ar­gos did get inside Saskatchewan’s 30 yard line.

An ob­jec­tion­able con­duct penalty to Wil­lie Jef­fer­son took the ball to the 19, where Ray hooked up with S.J. Green. The point af­ter tied the game, 24-24, with 3:27 re­main­ing.

As for the of­fi­ci­at­ing, it didn’t af­fect the fi­nal out­come, but it did, again, be­come an is­sue.

One play that stood out saw Ar­gos de­fen­sive back Alden Darby Jr., called for il­le­gal con­tact while de­fend­ing on Duron Carter near the Ar­gos bench area with a minute and a half to go.

It put the Roughrid­ers in field goal range for Crapigna to boot the win­ning points.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing that con­tact away is called and we lost the play,” Trest­man said.

“It re­ally hurt us, but I’m not go­ing to com­ment on the rules or the de­ci­sion to do it, whether it was right or wrong that’s the of­fi­cial’s job.”

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

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