Esks sink Ricky Ray, Boatmen
By Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency
|Toronto Argonauts running back Andre Durie is tackled by Eskimos defender JC Sherritt during their game at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta on Saturday, June 30, 2012, (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - It was supposed to be Ricky Ray's homecoming.
But it was Edmonton product Grant Shaw's debut in Green and Gold that turned the tide Saturday's season-opener.
The 'other' part of the Ray trade went four-for-four against his former CFL squad as the Edmonton Eskimos defeated the Toronto Argonauts 19-15.
For all the hype surrounding his return to Edmonton, Ricky Ray snuck onto the field without much ado.
It wasn't until both squads earned a single first down and punted on their opening series that Ray received a standing ovation from the 35,538 in the stands while taking to the field for his second series.
And his first regular-season pass as an Argo looked mighty familiar, throwing a first down in Commonwealth Stadium to a slotback wearing No. 2 — only this time it was Chad Owens instead of Fred Stamps.
But it was Shaw — both an Edmonton and Saskatchewan Huskies product — who put the first points on the board with a 3-0 lead on a 44-yard field goal after Toronto's penalty problems started early and came often.
Toronto running back Jeff Johnson gave Edmonton the ball right back when linebacker J.C. Sherritt forced a fumble that cornerback Rod Williams recovered, leading to a 27-yard field goal by Shaw to leave the opening quarter with a 6-0 lead.
They extended it five minutes into the second, when a 38-yard reception by Darius Bowman set up a five-yard touchdown rush by a sidewinding Hugh Charles, who followed up with his first regular-season end-zone backflip.
The nine-play, 85-yard drive took 4:14 to put Edmonton ahead 13-0.
But Ray responded with a nine-play, 85-yard scoring drive of his own with a 52-yard completion to Owens that set up a five-yard touchdown reception by Cory Boyd to trail 13-7 at .
Shaw opened the third quarter with his third field goal of the game, this one from 43 yards out — to push Edmonton's lead to nine points.
Eskimos cornerback Rod Williams was credited with knocking a sure touchdown out of Owens's hands before Noel Prefontaine missed a 32-yard field goal for a single to trail 16-8.
But Shaw improved to four-for-four at the other end of the field, adding three more from 29 yards out before Prefontaine hit the longest boot of the game, a 47-yarder to trail 19-11 with three minutes left in the third.
But he followed up with missing from 24 yards out to open the final frame after an Argos touchdown was negated by holding, before punting a 61-yard single.
A Jordan Younger interception on Jyles led to a 30-yard field goal to trail by four before Edmonton's defence held fast on a last-minute Argos drive for the victory.