Ray hits 200 TD mark
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray throws a pass against the Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne stadium in Hamilton, Ont., Friday. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
HAMILTON - With the spotlight shining on Anthony Calvillo’s record-breaking season, Ricky Ray quietly reached a career milestone Friday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
A seven-yard touchdown to Calvin McCarty in the second quarter marked the Edmonton Eskimos quarterback’s 200th TD toss of his career.
“Yeah, that’s pretty cool,” said Ray, who completed 25 of 32 pass attempts for 226 yards and the major on the way to a 38-23 win at Ivor Wynne. “It’s just nice to go out there and win a football game.
“To get to 200 is pretty cool, but I’ve still got a long way to go to catch A.C., I think he’s got double that. But it’s nice to get it in a victory.”
And what a victory. Only the Eskimos’ second in their last eight visits to Hamilton, where the Ticats tied Calvillo’s Montreal Alouettes for the best home record of the first half of the season, 4-1.
But this time, it was the Eskimos making themselves at home, nearly matching Ray’s aerial performance with 223 more yards of offence on the ground thanks to big outings from Jerome Messam and McCarty.
But No. 200 didn’t come easy for Ray, who was stuck at 199 after being kept out of the end zone against Calgary in the Labour Day rematch one week earlier.
In fact, coming into this weekend, Ray had thrown just two touchdowns in his previous four games. And with both of those coming in the Labour Day Classic, Ray was on a stretch where he had gone three out of four without tossing a touchdown.
But he wasn’t thinking about that in Hamilton. Heck, he wasn’t even thinking about hitting 200.
“I didn’t even know, they told me after the game on the radio,” Ray said. “So I didn’t even know I was up for that.
“I wish I had one more. I had Fred (Stamps) over there on the corner route in the end zone, I wish I could have that back.”
As did Stamps, who racked up 130 yards on 14 catches — just two off of tying the league record of 16 receptions in a game set by four players, including B.C.’s Arland Bruce, whose 2010 effort was the most recent.
Stamps was well on track to set a new number after catching nine for 111 yards in the first half, alone.
“We kind of heard on the sideline at the end of the game that he was a few short and we tried to do our best to get him the ball,” Ray said. “But we just kind of ran out of time.”
BARNES BACK: Slotback Jason Barnes is expected to return to full-time duty at practice this week in preparation for Friday’s home game against the Montreal Alouettes.
The third-year receiver suffered cracked ribs stretching out for a ball in the end zone the last time he faced the Alouettes in Week 9, missing the last four games.
“One week, one receiver has a big game, the other week another receiver will have a big game,” said slotback Fred Stamps. “And we get Jason back (this) week, so who are you going to focus on?”