The Toronto Argonauts clinched their first East Division title since 2013 as they won their final regular-season game in convincing fashion Saturday night with a 40-13 win over the BC Lions. The Argos finish 2017 at 9-9 and will host their first-ever playoff game at BMO Field on November 19th against the winner of the East Semi-Final between Saskatchewan and Ottawa.
QB Ricky Ray finished 2017 as strong as he started it, hitting eight different receivers and completing 26-of-34 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 28 on the year. His 13th 300+ yard game this year sets a new career-high for Ray and ties Anthony Calvillo for second all-time in a single-season, just one shy of Doug Flutie’s 14 in 1991. The Double Blue’s selection for Most Outstanding Player had a remarkable year finishing second in yards (5,546), first in completions (474), tied for first in completion percentage (71.0), and tied for second in touchdown passes.
A 34-yard catch early in the game marked WR S.J. Green’s 100th reception of the season as he capped off his career year with five catches for 83 yards and his tenth touchdown of the year. The 11-year CFL veteran ended the 2017 regular-season with 104 receptions (tied for first in the CFL) for 1,462 yards and 10 touchdowns (both of which are good for second in the league). His receptions and yards are new career highs.
First-year Argo DB Cassius Vaughn intercepted his fourth and fifth passes of the year and returned them for a combined 31 yards, giving the Ole Miss product 209 interception return-yards on the year, good for a share of second all-time in Argos history and best in the CFL in 2017. He also led the Boatmen in tackles on the night with five, his second-highest total all year.
DL Shawn Lemon, returning to action for the first time since Week 11 due to injury, picked up right where he left off recording his eighth sack of the year and 50th of his career in the second quarter. 22 of those 50 sacks have come in a Toronto uniform as Lemon finishes 2017 tied for third in the CFL in sacks.
Canadian KLirim Hajrullahufinished his best CFL season kicking all four field goals he lined up for on the night with a long of 39 yards. He set a new career high with 47 field goals on 58 attempts, adding up to 81% for the year.
RB James Wilder Jr., Toronto’s candidate for Most Outstanding Rookie, finished off a remarkable six-game stretch as the starting running back, rushing 18 times for 136 yards and his fifth touchdown. Wilder also hauled in seven passes for 91 yards, a new career high. Since taking over as the primary back in Week 13, the Florida State product has racked up 700 rushing yards, 37 receptions, 441 receiving yards and five touchdowns in six games. His 872 rushing yards rank him number five in the CFL and his 7.1 yards per carry is the highest figure league-wide.
RB Declan Cross caught his fifth touchdown of the season, giving him majors in each of the last three games. Cross finished with three receptions for 39 yards. The second-year pro had a very productive year catching passes out of the backfield bringing in 36 passes for 366 yards, sixth-best on the team.
DB Rico Murray intercepted Lions QB Jonathon Jennings in the fourth quarter for his first pick of the year and the 10th of his five-year career. He finishes the regular-season with 58 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and a touchdown on defence.
DB Mitchell White got in on the turnover fun when he recorded his third interception of the season and first since Week 14 when he had two vs. Montreal. His three interceptions tied a career-high, set last year as a member of the Ottawa Redblacks but it only took him 6 games to accomplish the feat as an Argo.
First-year Argonaut DE Victor Butler, who got off to a scorching start in 2017 with eight sacks in his first three games, brought down the Lions QB for his tenth sack of the year Saturday night. Those sacks place Butler second in the league at the conclusion of the regular-season, one shy of the league leader. Butler also forced his fourth fumble of the year, the best mark in the CFL.