Argos get roughed up

BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:56 PM ET

TORONTO -- The scoreboard said the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Toronto Argonauts 46-36 yesterday in their home-opener at Rogers Centre.

Don't believe it.

What the Argos did yesterday in front of 30,055 fans was beat themselves in an act of public suicide.

"We killed ourselves with turnovers and penalties. We had the momentum ... and we took it away from ourselves," said Argos pivot Kerry Joseph.

The hosts surrendered 30 second-quarter points, wiping out an efficient first 15 minutes in which Toronto built a 13-7 lead.

It was on that lone Roughies touchdown drive the first cracks started to show.

Andy Fantuz got credit for the touchdown pass, but it was set up with the help of a roughing penalty to Lin-J Shell and an unnecessary roughness call against Adriano Belli on second down.

"We were very high-strung. I think it took one thing to trigger it," said Argonauts linebacker Zeke Moreno.

"That roughing-the-passer was it. We were off the field and it started the downslide from there. We have to control our emotions.

"(The official) said it was a helmet-to-helmet thing. That was the issue. But it seemed to funnel down from there."

Suddenly, 10 days of preaching from head coach Bart Andrus about being disciplined evaporated -- like the Argos lead.

The second quarter included Argonauts eight penalties for 89 yards, two fumbles, a safety and a blocked punt that sent the Argos to the dressing room to the all-too-familiar serenade of boos -- trailing 37-13.

The opening drive of the second quarter was almost Monty Pythonesque.

Bryan Crawford was called for holding, then Arland Bruce was fingered for offside, leaving the Boatmen at their own three-yard line.

Then a Riders defender went inside offensive tackle Rob Murphy with a spin move to sack Joseph for the safety and Saskatchewan trailed 13-9.

On the next possession, Toronto's Steve Schmidt fumbled, a face-mask penalty to Belli put Saskatchewan inside the 10, and running back Hugh Charles ran it in to give the Riders a 16-13 lead.

Belli also got called for unnecessary roughness on the score, costing the Boatmen 20 yards after the kickoff and forcing them to start inside their five ... where Robertson then fumbled. Sean Lucas recovered for the visitors and Charles punched it in.

In six minutes and 20 seconds of football hell, the Double Blue went from a cozy lead to insurmountable deficit and an airing-out from Andrus.

"The issue is: Do you want to be a street-fighter or do you want to be a football player? It's that simple," said Andrus. "Do you want to be a WWE wrestler or a football player? It's going to end because guys that continue to do it won't be here. I won't be embarrassed week after week."

Except for that second quarter, the Argos actually didn't play poorly. They had 432 yards of total offence.

But it wasn't enough to offset five turnovers and 141 yards lost on 17 penalties, many simply the result of emotional implosions.

BILL.LANKHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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