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CFL Preview - British Columbia (3-1) at Toronto (2-2)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Tuesday, July 30, 7:30 p.m. (et)

GAME NOTES: An ailing Toronto team tries to hold on to first place in the Eastern Division during Week 5 play as the squad tangles with the British Columbia Lions on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.

The Argonauts have split their first four games of the season, bouncing back from a two-game slide last Friday night by taking a 35-19 win over Winnipeg on the road. The team's 2-2 record is good enough for the top spot in the Eastern Division with the other three clubs (Hamilton, Montreal and Winnipeg) trailing at 1-3.

However, the news is not all good for the Argos heading into play against BC, in fact it is hard to see it as being more bleak.

Ahead by double digits in the third quarter, Toronto signal-caller Ricky Ray left the contest with an apparent knee injury, but not before he converted all but one of his 20 pass attempts for 286 yards and two scores. Listed as day- to-day as of Tuesday, Ray, who set a team record with his 95-percent completion percentage, is hoping his status improves. He missed five games last season after injuring his knee against Montreal.

The status of Ray and his involvement in the game with the Lions will probably not be decided until later in the week. The depth chart lists Trevor Harris and Zach Collaros behind Ray as they compete for playing time after both played last week.

Head coach Scott Milanovich has to be planning for the worst with Ray. Unfortunately, the news is much better for the quarterback than it is for running back Chad Kackert, the sixth-leading rusher in the league, who will probably be out between four-to-six week after taking a hit in the fourth quarter.

To that point Kackert had gained only 22 yards on nine carries and another 20 yards on three receptions.

With Kackert on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Jeff Johnson will likely have a few more hand-offs coming his way. Expect to see Chad Owens more involved coming out of the backfield as well. The league's top player from a year ago is already first in the league with 35 receptions for 380 yards and is tops in combined yards with 806 through four outings.

Andrew Harris ran for 103 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground as he helped guide the British Columbia Lions to a 31-21 win over the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place in Week 4 action. With the win, BC improved to 3-1 on the year, trailing only undefeated Saskatchewan in the Western Division.

Harris carried the ball 17 times and also caught two passes for another 30 yards for a BC squad that has won three straight since opening the campaign with a 44-32 setback at Calgary. Quarterback Travis Lulay converted 18-of-24 passes for 284 yards and a major, a 77-yard strike to Emmanuel Arceneaux to open the second half.

Arceneaux reeled in five balls for a game-high 106 yards for a BC group that generated 420 yards of total offense and was flagged just four times for 30 yards.

Harris is currently third in the league in rushing with 296 yards, leading to four touchdowns which has him tied for the CFL lead in that category with Kory Sheets of Saskatchewan. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Harris, which takes quite a bit of pressure off Lulay, the Lions are right in the middle of the pack when it comes to scoring with an average of 26.0 ppg.

Lulay is closing in on 1,000 passing yards on the season and is third in aerial scores with seven. However, it is the defense that has been taking more of the credit for the latest victories.

At this stage, BC is first in the league in yards allowed at 288.0 per game, the only team below 300.0 ypg. The disparity between the Lions and Toronto right now is rather staggering, with the Argos allowing a massive 418.0 ypg, permitting just under 10 yards per completed pass, something that should give Lulay reason to feel comfortable in the pocket this week.

In the first meeting of the season between the teams three weeks ago, the Lions scored in every quarter as they pulled out a 24-16 triumph. Lulay threw for 249 yards and a touchdown for the host Lions, while Harris contributed another 103 yards and a major on the ground. Toronto took far too long to warm up, scoring a field goal in both the second and third quarters after being shutout in the first.

With the triumph, British Columbia has now won six straight regular season duels and all but one of the last 17 matchups overall. Dating back to 1961 and taking into consideration only regular season battles, BC leads the Argos by a count of 52-31-2.

The uncertainty at the quarterback position, coupled with the loss of Kackert for the immediate future is more than enough reason to believe the Lions will be able to extend their win streak in this series to seven games.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 33, Toronto 17

07/24 10:30:30 ET

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