The Argonauts QB led his team on a last-minute touchdown drive to send the game into overtime and then threw two touchdown passes in extra time to lead Toronto to a 42-40 double-overtime victory over the host Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday. Harris, in his third game as starter for the injured Ricky Ray, led Toronto (2-0) to a 26-11 upset over the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 1.
"I just want to be the best possible back-up I can be,'' said Harris, who went 30 for 38 with 267 yards and four touchdowns and one interception in the game. "Ricky Ray is one of the best quarterbacks ever in the CFL. My job is to steer the ship in the right direction when he's not available.''
Playing in front of 31,907 fans at Mosaic Stadium, Saskatchewan led the game 28-21 with just over a minute left in the game. Scrimmaging from the Toronto 25, Harris led the Argonauts on a last-minute touchdown drive, capped off with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Chad Owens, to send the game into overtime.
In a crazy overtime session filled with penalties and a few reviewed plays, Saskatchewan opened up the scoring on its first possession when Rob Bagg took the ball one yard into the end zone on an end around. Running back Jerome Messam was tackled in the backfield on the ensuing two-point conversion. The Argos stormed back with a nine-yard receiving touchdown by running back Brandon Whitaker in their first overtime period. They, too, failed their two-point conversion attempt when Harris was sacked by Rider defensive back Macho Harris.
In the second overtime, Harris threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tori Gurley and then hooked up with running back Anthony Coombs on a three-yard strike for the two-point conversion to put Toronto up 42-34. Saskatchewan (0-2) had a chance to tie the game after QB Kevin Glenn connected with Chris Getzlaf for a 25-yard touchdown on the next drive, but Glenn just missed Getzlaf on the ensuing two-point convert.
"I was on the sideline and coach said these are the moments you live for,'' Harris said. "I remember thinking, 'I've done this in my backyard a few times. Now you've just got to go do it with 30,000 thousand people in the stands.' We took a punch in the mouth from a great football team and we were able to come back and keep fighting.''
Owens, who led Toronto receivers with eight catches for 88 yards and one touchdown, said the team has always believed in Harris' ability to lead.
"He's a guy who doesn't go out there to prove guys wrong; he just goes out there and does his job,'' Owens said. "This just shows that this a guy who can go into a hostile environment, go into a situation where there's still question marks surrounding him, and get the job done.''
The Riders put up over 500 yards of offence in the loss. Glenn went 33 for 40 for 477 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Riders, while the Riders' Ryan Smith led all receivers with eight catches for 174 yards and one touchdown. It was a similar story in Week 1, where the Riders put up nearly 500 yards in offence in a 30-26 home loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"It's bittersweet since we didn't get the victory, but I'm still proud of the guys on the offence side of the ball because we went out and showed a lot of resiliency,'' Glenn said. "We don't want to be 0-2, but that's what professional sports is all about. We'll learn from our mistake in this game and move on.''
Veteran kicker Paul McCallum, who returned to Saskatchewan last week after being released by the B.C. Lions on June 3, hit all four of his field goal attempts in the game, including a 49-yarder.
(Canadian Press/Craig Slater)
HEAD COACH COREY CHAMBLIN
- We should be talking about a win right now. Everybody sees that. Pass Interference, an interception, the drop. We're real close to protecting all those things. I told the guys I'm proud of them. We're real close.
- A lotta good signs in all three phases. We gotta get points. We have to have points if we have 500 yards offense.
- We gotta fix some things, go on the road and learn how to win a football game
- I told them I'm proud of the effort. They did everything right this week getting ready for the game. We were this close to a tie or a win. Keep doing things right and we'll be in the victory column.
- There were some things. We had a three man rush and we were too shallow (behind it). We had nine men deep and they had an 18-yard pick up or something. There was a penalty too. We have to play it better when the ball's in the air.
- (Pass Interference on Weldon Brown) is a judgment call. Judgment means whatever he sees at that time. We have to play the ball better when it's in the air.
- I'm not going to say undisciplined. My team is disciplined. They had just as many penalties as we did. Each year presents its own challenges. This is about getting young players and veteran players to play together.
- They (the CFL) wanted to see the points up. I have to have to find a way around it, being a defensive coach. Two or three plays differently, and we're sitting around here talking about a win. One play different and we're talking about a tie. But they didn't go our way and we're talking about a loss.
- It's a positive that we're starting to see playmakers. It's not just Getzlaf, Bagg and Dressler. I believe in Ryan Smith. I told him before the game he's going to ball today.
- Kevin Glenn wishes he had that ball back (on the pick six). The team tried to fight back but the mindset was different after that. Defensive points against are tough to get over.
- I thought we were stoning them early. We had a good couple of quarters but after that interception, it doesn't matter about the yards. It's about the points. Things got away from us at the end.
- The good thing about it is, and I tell the guys this, if you lose games tight, you're close. If you get blown out, you're not close. As the guys continue to grow, we won't be losing by two and three points. We'll be winning those.
- I won't say concerns. We have a lot of yards. Jacques wants to be in the endzone. We'll continue to look at things but we need to have the points. We need to find a way to score points in this new league.
- (Injuries). It's too early to tell. Ivan tells me who's out and then the doctors assess it when we meet after this news conference.
- I will let Brendan Taman speak on the medical. I don't want to talk about Darian's injury or surgery.
- (On pressuring the quarterback) That's always a concern. We'd like to get pressure without sending five or six guys. We'd like more pressure but teams are smart and sometimes they'll put out double tight or an extra back to stop the pressure.
- I've very pleased with my football team and we're very close to getting it. We're on the right course and we're close to getting it.
- We fought really hard today. We took that next towards winning a game. It was just kinda crappy luck but we'll step back next week and we'll be alright.
- I'm good. I got a little shocker but I'll be alright.
- Our heads are held high. We came out there fighting and that's all we can ask for. We came up a little short today but next week we'll be ready to go.
- I try to just go out there and do what I do. If the ball's in the air, I try to make a play on it. Just help out the quarterback and team as much as I possibly can.
- I've been told about the 24 hour rule. You watch the previous game's film, learn from your mistakes, and then come back and focus on your next opponent. That's what I'm gonna do.
- We had a lot of things going. I loved our intensity and energy. Sometimes the wins and losses don't fall your way but we'll regroup and be a good football team
- (The game) was incredible to say the least. A roller coaster to say the least, that's for sure. But we'll be back to fight next week.
- (Chamblin) just said he liked our intenstiy, he loved our effort and we're that close. We're a couple inches away and we'll be a good football team