By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Rasheed Bailey was planning to do more than just take home the football from his first CFL touchdown in Winnipeg’s 20-7 victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Friday.
“I’m gonna sleep with that football tonight, I promise,” said Bailey, a second-year player whose 35-yard catch started the scoring at 10:14 of the first quarter.
“The last time I got in the end zone and it counted was 2015 from Tim Tebow in the back of the end zone of the (New York) Jets stadium. It was special for me, it was special for my family.”
The Blue Bombers didn’t let a change in Toronto quarterbacks throw them off on the way to their victory that kept them undefeated (2-0) in front of 22,143 fans at IG Field.
Toronto (1-1) quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson started the game, but was replaced by Nick Arbuckle with 4:17 left in the third quarter and the score 10-0 for Winnipeg.
Arbuckle, who didn’t play in the Argos’ first game because of a hamstring injury, promptly led Toronto on a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with John White’s 30-yard touchdown run with 1:11 left in the third.
Winnipeg replied with a Nic Demski touchdown, and then Arbuckle was intercepted by defensive back Deatrick Nichols with four minutes left in the game. That led to a Tyler Crapigna 22-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining.
“It was exciting,” Arbuckle said. “It was a situation in which our offence had multiple chances in the second half to make a comeback happen. It was just really fun to be out there with the guys and trying to lead that and make that happen.
“Obviously, we’re not happy at all. It wasn’t fun how it turned out, but there’s a lot of things that we did wrong and we were still in the game at the end of it and that gives us something to work towards for next week. And we’re all excited that we get to try for our revenge real quick.”
Arbuckle finished the game completing 10-of-19 pass attempts for 96 yards and one interception. Bethel-Thompson was 10-of-20 for 70 yards.
Toronto hosts Winnipeg next Saturday in its home opener. Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said a decision will be made soon on which quarterback will start in the rematch.
“I want to look at the film before I make any rash decisions, but I thought Nick did some good things out there,” Dinwiddie said. “The one pick was unfortunate, but we’ll cross that bridge here in a few days.”
Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros was 32-of-40 for 292 yards with two TDs and one pick.
“We did enough to win the game,” Collaros said. “But if you brought anybody in here from the offence, I think they would say we need to just continue to focus on every single play and treat it one play at a time. I know it’s cliché, but plays that we left out there this season have been preventable. And that starts with me.”
Crapigna was also good on another 22-yard field goal and two converts.
Toronto kicker Boris Bede hit an upright on a 51-yard field-goal attempt, but made his convert of White’s TD.
Collaros connected with Bailey in the end zone, who was in tight coverage and came down with the ball.
The Argos hurt themselves with some penalties early in the second quarter, including three in a row that forced a punt. At halftime, Toronto had nine penalties for 67 yards, compared to Winnipeg’s three for 35 yards.
Toronto got a spark after forcing Demski to fumble. The ball was recovered by Shaq Richardson and the Argos took over at their own 39-yard line, but the series ended with Bede’s dead ball on his field-goal attempt.
Winnipeg responded with Crapigna’s field goal with no time left of the clock.
Bethel-Thompson was 8-of-15 passing for 54 yards at halftime. In last week’s 23-20 win over Calgary, he threw for 354 yards.
Collaros was 19-of-23 for 185 yards at the break.
Argos defensive back Jamal Peters intercepted Collaros in the end zone midway through the third quarter, jumping up in front of intended receiver Kenny Lawler. The gift ended with a punt after White ran for two yards and Bethel-Thompson threw an incomplete pass to DaVaris Daniels.
Arbuckle came in and marched the Argos down the field for White’s TD at 13:49.
White’s good fortune soon turned when he was forced to fumble and Nichols recovered the ball at Toronto’s 36-yard line.
The turnover ended with Demski’s 15-yard TD catch in the corner of the end zone to up Winnipeg’s lead to 17-7 at 3:07 of the fourth quarter. The win was sealed with Crapigna’s field goal at 12:53.
Arbuckle fumbled with 46 seconds left in the game after he got the Argos down to Winnipeg’s 25-yard line.
White finished with 12 carries for 111 yards.