Ray not eyeing rushing mark

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:24 PM ET

The last time Ricky Ray played against the B.C. Lions, he had the rushing performance of his career.

Of course, he was also running for his life, at times, with a dozen carries for a single-game-high 135 yards and a touchdown on the way to a 31-28 overtime win at Empire Field last October.

"That game in B.C. last year, you ain't going to see that probably ever again," said Ray, who has averaged just 300.5 rushing yards a season over the past eight years. "It was a one-time deal.

"They just didn't contain me on a few plays, I had a couple big plays and I scrambled."

Ray punched in the winning touchdown from one yard out to seal the victory in an extra quarter.

Combined with running back Daniel Porter's 171 yards on the ground, the Eskimos ground game took over from an anemic aerial attack that was held to just 139 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Ray had completed a sub-par 10 of 20 pass attempts.

"It's always important, especially in this league, for a quarterback if he can pick up one to two first downs a game with his feet, that's huge for your offence," said Ray. "It keeps drives going, it frustrates the defence and that's what you try and do when things aren't there, is to try and pick up the first-down with your feet."

But it came at a price. Ray was hit after leaving the pocket on two different occasions by Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian, who ended up getting fined for a helmet-to-helmet infraction on one.

Ray, meanwhile, sat out the following game, while then-backup Jared Zabransky led the Eskimos to a 39-24 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 17.

"He's really hammered it home in my mind that I've got to slide," Ray said of Elimimian. "Last year, I thought I'd just try to pick up a few extra yards. This year, I think I'm going to get down when I see those guys coming at me.

"That's probably the biggest lesson I've learned from him."

That's not to say the rewards aren't sometimes worth the risk.

"It's tough. I've always tried to at least dive forward," Ray said. "You start to realize that all it takes is one shot and you can get hurt or be out or be sore the rest of the year.

"Obviously, if the game's on the line and you've got to pick up a yard or get in the end zone, you're going to do your best to do that."

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