Bridge rallies Roughriders to exciting road victory over Argos

Saskatchewan Roughriders' quarterback Brandon Bridge (16) runs the ball against the B.C. Lions during the second half of a pre-season CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 16, 2017. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

TORONTO — Tyler Crapigna’s 18-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining earned the Saskatchewan Roughriders a hard-fought 27-24 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday night.

Toronto tied it 24-24 on Ricky Ray’s 19-yard touchdown pass to S.J. Green at 11:19 to cap an 85-yard, 10-play drive. The Argos finished the march without stalwart running back James Wilder Jr., who left following a 12-yard completion after taking an incidental helmet-to-helmet hit from Saskatchewan’s Henoc Muamba.

But Canadian Brandon Bridge responded by marching Saskatchewan 64 yards on 11 plays to set up Crapigna’s game-winning kick. The Riders were helped by an illegal contact penalty on Toronto’s Alden Darby following a second-down incompletion.

Bridge was a major factor for Saskatchewan, completing 20-of-28 passes for 292 yards and the two TDs in relief of starter Kevin Glenn. Bridge relieved Glenn in the first half after the veteran completed just three-of-eight passes for 29 yards.

Bridge came in with Saskatchewan trailing 16-3. The 25-year-old native of Mississauga, Ont., capped a smart nine-play, 75-yard drive with an eight-yard TD pass to Namaan Roosevelt to cut Toronto’s half-time lead to 16-10.

Then after Lirim Hajrullahu’s 74-yard single put Toronto ahead 17-16, Bridge found Caleb Holley on a 75-yard scoring strike on the final play of the third. He followed that up by hitting Bakari Grant for the two-point convert to give the Riders a 24-17 advantage before a BMO Field gathering of 15,102 that featured plenty of green jerseys.

For the third straight game, the Riders linked arms during O Canada. It’s a show of unity following U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about NFL players kneeling during the American anthem.

Saskatchewan (8-6) earned its third straight road win to move into sole possession of third in the West Division standings.

Toronto (7-8) suffered its first loss in four games and will have to wait to clinch a playoff spot. The Argos could’ve secured a playoff berth and home game with a victory.

Ray was 30-of-37 passing for 341 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Wilder Jr. ran for 72 yards on 13 carries while adding seven catches for 90 yards.

Toronto’s defence was minus starting linebackers Marcus Ball (foot) and Bear Woods (upper-body) and defensive lineman Cleyon Laing (undisclosed). Ball went on the six-game injured list after being hurt in last weekend’s 43-35 overtime win over Hamilton but Woods was deactivated Saturday after being tested for an unspecified ailment Friday.

Akeem Jordan, who played eight NFL seasons with Philadelphia, Kansas City and Washington, was activated from the practice roster and took Woods’ place in the starting lineup. Ken Bishop took Laing’s spot.

Trent Richardson, the former Alabama star, made his CFL debut with Saskatchewan. The five-foot-nine, 225-pound Richardson had five carries for 20 yards.

Crapigna finished with four field goals and a convert.

Martese Jackson scored Toronto’s touchdown. Hajrullahu added three field goals, a single and two converts.

Before Bridge’s late-half heroics, Ray’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Jackson 20 seconds into the second broke a 3-3 tie. Toronto had to settle for Hajrullahu’s 16-yard field goal at 6:50 after Ray couldn’t connect with a wide-open Armanti Edwards in the Saskatchewan end zone.

Ray drove the Argos to the Saskatchewan 16-yard line but again they had to settle for Hajrullahu’s 19-yard field goal at 12:56.

Richardson’s first CFL carry resulted in an 18-yard gain for Saskatchewan, with 15 coming on an unnecessary roughness call against Toronto.