NEWS
08/08/2015 22:25 EDT | Updated 08/08/2016 01:12 EDT

Harris rallies Argos to victory over hard-luck Roughriders at Rogers Centre

TORONTO — Trevor Harris threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally the Toronto Argonauts to a penalty-filled 30-26 win over the hard-luck Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night at Rogers Centre.

Harris hit a streaking Diontae Spencer for a 53-yard touchdown pass at 4:41 to put Toronto (4-2) ahead 30-23. He found Vidal Hazelton on a 27-yard scoring strike 58 seconds into the quarter to tie a contest marred by an abundance of penalties.

Saskatchewan (0-7) pulled to within 30-26 on Paul McCallum's 27-yard field goal at 12:13. The Riders then took over at their 39 with 1:35 remaining and rookie Brett Smith drove them to the Toronto 15 before his pass into the end zone on the game's final play was incomplete.

Toronto won its first game of the season at Rogers Centre before 20,642 spectators with the roof open on a gorgeous summer night. The Argos travelled over 29,000 kilometres playing their first five contests, with their season-opening 26-11 win over Edmonton in Fort McMurray, Alta., counting as a home encounter.

It was another heart-breaking loss for Saskatchewan, which had three TDs nullified by penalties. The Riders were last 0-7 in '79 when they dropped their first 12 contests.

Toronto also swept the season series with Saskatchewan — winning the first meeting 42-40 in overtime at Mosaic Stadium on July 5 — for the first time since '04.

Toronto made it 16-16 at 7:12 of the third quarter on Akwasi Owusu-Ansah's 50-yard interception return TD and Harris's two-point conversion pass to Wayne Smith. But Brett Smith made up for his miscue, hitting Chris Getzlaf on a 55-yard touchdown toss at 9:49 to put Saskatchewan back ahead 23-16.

Toronto's Ronnie Pfeffer booted two field goals and two converts, with the other points coming on a safety.

Getzlaf finished with two TDs for Saskatchewan. Paul McCallum added two converts and three field goals.

McCallum's 27-yard field goal as time expired staked Saskatchewan to a 13-8 halftime lead despite having three TDs nullified by penalty. The biggest play of the half belonged to rookie Nic Demski, who returned Pfeffer's missed 48-yard field goal try 93 yards to the Toronto 18, setting up Getzlaf's six-yard TD catch at 13:18.

But twice Saskatchewan shot itself in the foot with costly penalties that nullified two Getzlaf TD grabs. Getzlaf's 55-yard touchdown catch in the first came back because of offsetting flags before his 18-yard reception in the second was waved off by an illegal interference call on offensive lineman Chris Best.

The Riders also had Geoff Tisdale's interception return for a TD following Getzlaf's score but Tisdale was called for illegal contact as the two teams combined for 25 penalties and 197 yards.

An illegal procedure call forced McCallum to try a 42-yard field goal, which he missed, allowing Toronto to return it to its 18-yard line and preserve a 3-0 advantage. Pfeffer opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal at 3:53 of the first, capping the Argos' opening possession. 

NOTES — Neither Toronto's Chad Owens and Saskatchewan's Weston Dressler, two of the CFL's top receivers, played. Argos offensive lineman Jarriel King and Riders' defensive lineman Derek Walker were the other scratches . . . Saskatchewan came into the contest with the CFL's worst plus-minus average at minus-9.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press