Argos get Roughed up

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

It didn't take long for Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Kent Austin to apply a well-placed kick to the groin of the team that punted him away a year ago.

On just the second play of last night's 24-13 victory over the Argos, Austin called a deep route designed to scorch his opponent's secondary.

When D.J. Flick hauled in the 45-yarder from quarterback Kerry Joseph, the tone was set for a miserable night for both the Argos and the season-high Rogers Centre crowd of 34,234.

Three plays later, Wes Cates waltzed into the end zone untouched from four yards out and the wire-to-wire win was on.

The banged-up Argos put up a fight on offence but ultimately were little match for the resurgent Roughies (5-2)

Toronto, meanwhile, fell to 2-5, the same record they possessed a year ago when Austin was unceremoniously sent packing.

A fourth consecutive defeat marked the Argos' longest losing streak in almost six years.

Worse still, by midnight tonight the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, once so distant, could tie the Argos for third in the East Division, should they upset the Eskimos in Edmonton.

"We've dug ourselves a big hole," Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said. "We're not pulling the chute, but we know it's a big hill.

"At this point, it's extremely challenging. It's extremely tough. I just lost the rest of my summer."

The loss spoiled a game effort by quarterback Rocky Butler, the Argos' fourth different starter of the season, who almost made up for the injury-ravaged lineup.

Butler completed 23 of 32 attempts for 303 yards, a season-high output for an Argos quarterback.

While the offence held its own under strong leadership from Butler, some sloppy tackling, poor special teams and undisciplined penalties easily erased that effort.

When Joseph ran 10 yards untouched for a touchdown on the opening play of the second quarter to give the Riders a 14-3 lead, the favoured visitors seemed well in control.

But minutes later, Butler connected on a perfect 34-yard touchdown strike to Arland Bruce and suddenly the Argos were in it, trailing just 17-10 at the half.

They got it to 17-13 in the fourth and suddenly the comeback had some legs. But when Bashir Levingston fumbled a missed 47-yard field goal attempt by Saskatchewan's Luca Congi, the rally was stopped in its tracks.

Roughies lineman Wayne Smith pounced on the ball and, two plays later, Flick scored on a 14-yard TD to put the game out of reach.

The Argos now enter the bye week hoping to get some bodies back before a crucial road date against East rival Winnipeg on Aug. 24.

After that, it's back-to-back contests against the Ticats.

While Austin stuck to his stance of the past several days, that the victory had no special meaning -- "It's not about me, it's about those guys out there," he said last night -- his friend and former boss suspects otherwise.

"I think the reality is any time the cute girl says for whatever reason, this is not the right time, it's nice to go back and say: 'Hey cutie, maybe you should have kept me,' " Clemons said.

And that kick in the pants Austin got a year ago? Looks like it has kick-started his career as a CFL head coach.


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