for this game

Eskimos hold off Argonauts

Oct 22, 2011 - 3:01 AM Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Ricky Ray threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns and added a score on the ground as the Edmonton Eskimos survived a late-game rally by the Toronto Argonauts to take a 31-24 victory on Friday.

Ray completed 17-of-29 passes and threw for over 300 yards for just the second time in the past 13 games.

Jerome Messam carried the ball 19 times for 115 yards and Fred Stamps hauled in seven passes for 129 yards and a score as the Eskimos (10-6) reduced their magic number to one for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Edmonton needs just one more win or a British Columbia loss to seal the No. 1 seed in the West Division. British Columbia plays Saturday at Hamilton.

Toronto's Chad Owens became the first professional football player to surpass 3,000 all-purpose yards in consecutive seasons by catching nine balls for 97 yards, returning five punts for 84 yards and returning four kickoffs for 77 yards, giving him 3,139 on the season.

"What I will always remember about this record is the guys who are out there with me on the field and knowing there is no way I could have done this without them," Owens said. "I feel fortunate and blessed to be in this position today and I'm so happy to have done this in this league, for this team and for all my teammates."

Steven Jyles was 23-of-39 for 285 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and Cory Boyd had 132 yards on 15 carries for the Argonauts (4-12).

Trailing by 31-3 halfway through the fourth quarter, Toronto failed to convert on third down inside Edmonton territory, but after forcing an Eskimo punt, the Argonauts worked their way down the field with a 10-play drive, resulting in Jeff Johnson's 13-yard TD catch with 5:49 left in the game.

Jyles later found Brandon Rideau for a 15-yard score with 90 seconds left in the game and Boyd recovered the onsides kick to give the ball right back to Toronto.

T.J. Hill's interception in the end zone would have sealed the win for Edmonton, but was nullified by a defensive pass interference, and Johnson rumbled in from one-yard out to make it a 31-24 game with 44 seconds left.

Toronto failed to convert its second onsides kick attempt, but Messam was stripped on the first play of the Eskimos' drive and Toronto recovered the loose ball at their own 43.

The Argos converted a 3rd-and-2 to move into Edmonton territory, but Jyles could not complete any of his tosses down field and Weldon Brown intercepted the ball on Jyles' Hail Mary attempt as time expired to seal the win.

"We found a way to make it difficult in the end," Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said. "We knew Toronto was going to be tough and you have to give them credit. They kept executing at the end and they almost found a way to win the game,"

Owens' 48-yard reception on Toronto's second possession of the game moved the ball deep into Edmonton territory, but the Argonauts' drive stalled at the 14 and they had to settle for a Noel Prefontaine 21-yard field goal for a 3-1 lead.

Faced with a first down at their own one-yard line, the Argonauts got a 64- yard rush from Boyd right up the middle to switch fields. The Argos failed to punch the ball into the end zone from inside the Eskimos' 20 again and Prefontaine's 19-yard field goal banked off the right upright to keep it a two-point game.

Edmonton answered with an eight-play drive highlighted by back-to-back receptions of 20 and 18 yards by Nate Coehoorn and Messam, resulting in Damon Duval's 39-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.

After forcing a punt, Ray hit Jason Barnes with a pass over the middle and Barnes raced into the end zone for a 43-yard score to put Edmonton ahead 11-3.

Ray capped an eight-play drive with a nine-yard scramble into the end zone with seven seconds left in the half to give the Eskimos a 19-3 advantage at the break.

Edmonton quickly extended its lead on the opening drive of the second half when Adarius Bowman hauled in a 64-yard catch to set up Duval's 17-yard field goal.

The Eskimos were on the verge of adding their second touchdown of the game on their next possession when Ray hit Stamps on a pass and he raced 47 yards down the field. But he was stripped of the ball at the one-yard line and Toronto recovered.

Edmonton was able to add to its lead three plays later on a safety and Stamps hauled in a 15-yard TD grab on the ensuing possession to make it a 31-3 game.

Game Notes

Edmonton leads the all-time series between the teams 43-38-1...Messam rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth time this season...It was also Boyd's fourth game of the year with over 100 yards on the ground...Rideau caught six passes for 68 yards...Bowman had three receptions for 82 yards.