Two quarterbacks who have recently moved from west to east made their mark on their new teams, while a backup quarterback left a good impression with the Grey Cup champions on Wednesday night.
Ricky Ray led the Toronto Argonauts into Ivor Wynne Stadium to face Henry Burris and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first pre-season action for both teams. More than 27,000 fans saw Ray miss his first three pass attempts, but eventually he would go 5-for-8 for 72 yards before leaving the game shortly into the second quarter with the Argos up 14-0.
Burris came into the game when Ray exited, and he went 7-for 15 for 214 yards and a touchdown, including a fine 51-yard pass play to receiver Sam Giguere. Smilin’ Hank would also cough up one of his trademark interceptions when defensive back Patrick Watkins picked off an errant pass in the end zone targeted at Bakari Grant.
Cory Boyd starred on offense for the Boatmen, scoring two touchdowns on five carries for 10 yards. The Argos would eventually prevail 29-24. Even with the loss, though, Burris offers the Ticats faithful hope of a competitive showing in league play this season. The home side did rally before ultimately falling. Hamilton head coach George Cortez noted his team has some issues to correct: among them, 13 penalties and seven turnovers.
“Way too many mistakes, way too many penalties, way too many turnovers, that would be my first thought,” Cortez said in an interview. “There were some positives, but you’re always disappointed when you lose and you’re always disappointed when the things you expect to do better don’t happen.”
In Vancouver, backup quarterback Mike Reilly tossed three touchdowns as the B.C. Lions demolished the Saskatchewan Roughriders 44-10 at B.C. Place. Reilly also ran seven times for 58 yards and completed 16-of-24 passes for 189 yards. First-stringer Travis Lulay went 7-for-11 for 72 yards in one quarter of work.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant couldn’t get anything going, completing no passes in three attempts and was sacked once in the three series he played. Kory Sheets had three carries for 32 yards to lead all Saskatchewan running backs. Perhaps the most disappointing result for the visitors was the defensive backfield coverage, allowing 317 passing yards to the Lions.
At least publicly, Riders head coach Corey Chamblin wasn’t too concerned about the lopsided score. “They lined up as Grey Cup champions, and we lined up as individuals trying to find a team,” Chamblin told the Regina Leader-Post. “If we’re worried about pre-season, then we’re all in trouble. You never want to lose, but we have to be able to evaluate what we have and we saw some good things out there.”