Ray threw two TD passes to Chad Owens as Toronto held on for a 33-32 win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday afternoon. The Argos (5-8) moved into a second-place tie with idle Montreal in the East Division. They control their playoff destiny as their final five regular-season games are against conference rivals, four being at Rogers Centre.
"We've got a lot of big ones coming up, fortunately we have a lot of them at home," Ray said. "It's an advantage playing here, the home crowd can help us build momentum and now we don't have to worry about travelling."
The Tiger-Cats (6-7) beat the B.C. Lions 19-17 on Saturday night to take sole possession of first in the CFL East. That outcome wasn't pivotal because Toronto hosts Hamilton on Friday night and Oct. 25.
Toronto also plays Montreal twice — at Rogers Centre on Oct. 18, then at Molson Stadium on Nov. 2 — before finishing the regular season hosting the Ottawa Redblacks on Nov. 7.
Edmonton (9-5) made it interesting as Mike Reilly found Nate Coehoorn on a 15-yard TD, then ran for the two-point convert to pull the Eskimos to within 33-32 with 25 seconds remaining. But Toronto's Jamie Robinson recovered the onside kick as Ray improved to 2-3 against his former team before 16,276 spectators.
Ray finished 22-of-33 passing for 224 yards and also had an interception.
For Owens, it was important for Toronto to begin a four-game homestand on a winning note. The Argos were at Rogers Centre for the first time since a 33-17 loss to B.C. on Aug. 17.
"This is something that we needed," he said. "It was like a playoff game."
Toronto kicker Swayze Waters booted six field goals but missed from 21 yards out in the fourth that went for a single. But Waters redeemed himself roughly three minutes later with a crucial 38-yard kick that put the Argos ahead 33-24 at 13:39.
"We've got a lot of trust in him," Milanovich said. "I would've liked to finish some of those drives but it's huge when he comes through when they stall."
Kendial Lawrence had two TDs for Edmonton, including a 107-yard kickoff return. The Eskimos remain tied with Saskatchewan for in the West Division and will play their remaining four games against conference rivals (two home, two away).
Eskimos head coach Chris Jones, who also runs Edmonton's defence, said his team hurt itself with 18 penalties for 224 yards.
"I think our decision-making was the thing that was probably the biggest critical factor," he said. "We took way too many undisciplined penalties.
"There were a whole lot of plays out there we failed to make that were due to a lack of discipline."
Edmonton came in off an impressive 24-0 win over Saskatchewan last weekend. The defence had six sacks, forced two turnovers and allowed just 204 total yards while offensive the Eskimos ran for 299 yards, with John White recording 192 yards and Reilly finishing with 106.
But on Saturday, the CFL's second-ranked rushing attack (139.6 yards per game) managed just 58 yards against Toronto — which ran for 146 yards.
"The run was the first thing we had to stop," Toronto defensive lineman Tristan Okpalaugo said. "When you're up, they have to go to the pass and a defence loves when that happens."
Reilly was 24-of-32 passing for 272 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was also Edmonton's rushing leader with 36 yards on four carries as White finished with 17 yards on six attempts.
"They played a good football game . . . they had a good game plan, their guys executed it really well," Reilly said. "But when we were executing our plays we were moving the ball extremely well.
"We weren't able to establish the run and weren't able to take advantage of the pressures they were bringing."
Toronto improved to 4-6 against West Division teams and 1-7 when trailing at halftime.
Edmonton fell to 6-2 against East Division squads. Jones suffered the loss in his return to Toronto, where he served as Argos defensive co-ordinator in 2012-'13.
Waters also had two converts.
Reilly had Edmonton's other TD. Hugh O'Neill kicked three converts and a field goal.
Lawrence and Reilly scored touchdowns less than two minutes apart in the second quarter and Dexter McCoil registered a timely interception to earn Edmonton a 21-20 half-time advantage.
Reilly scored on a 23-yard TD run at 9:18, then found Lawrence on a 15-yard scoring strike to put Edmonton ahead 21-20. Lawrence's score was set up by Deon Lacey's recovery of Robert Gill's kickoff return fumble at the Toronto 36-yard line.
The Argos' responded with a smart-looking drive to the Edmonton 18 when Ray threw into the end zone looking for Owens. But McCoil intercepted and returned to the Eskimos' 25-yard line with 1:14 remaining.
NOTES — Owens and Andre Durie — who broke his right clavicle for the second time this season in practice last week — have been in Toronto's lineup together just three times this season . . . Edmonton and Toronto met for the first time in regular-season play Sept. 16, 1961. Their first-ever meeting was in the 1921 Grey Cup in Toronto, won 23-0 by the Argos. In that contest, Lionel Conacher scored four different ways — two TDs after laterals, a field goal (from drop kick), a single off a missed field goal and a punt single. He left after the third quarter to play in a hockey game . . . Edmonton's 24-0 win last weekend over Saskatchewan was it's first shutout victory since a 38-0 decision over Calgary on Sept. 5, 2003.