Edmonton (CFL.ca) Cory Boyd's 25th birthday is one he won't soon forget.
The Argonauts running back scored three touchdowns, including one in the final minute, as Toronto rallied to beat the Edmonton Eskimos 29-28 on Friday.
Former ASU quarterback Cleo Lemon was 23 of 34 passing for 292 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. On the ground, he had one carry for 19 yards.
Trailing 28-22 late in the game, the Argos engineered a 14-play, 94-yard drive kept alive thanks to a circus catch by Jeremaine Copeland and two Edmonton pass interference penalties. Boyd then punched the ball in from the one with just 22.8 seconds left and the extra point gave the Argonauts a one-point victory.
"Words can't explain what a happy birthday this was for me," said Boyd, who rushed for 164 yards. "We just kept fighting through it, all game. We played as a team and had confidence in each other. And we got some help at the end with those penalties. Everything worked out very well."
With the win, Toronto improved to 4-2 and remained two points back of first-place Montreal in the East Division.
"It was a tough game, I feel for (Eskimos coach Richie Hall)," said Toronto head coach Jim Barker. "But I thought both those interference calls at the end were flag-able. We were happy to get those in the end. I was proud of our guys tonight. We had just four penalties in the game and turned the ball over just the one time and that's how you win football games."
Barker was also happy with the play of under-fire Argos quarterback Cleo Lemon.
"That's the second time he's put together a drive to win the game. Our guys believe," Barker added. "There was never a question on the sidelines when we had the ball on our own 35 at the three-minute warning, that we were going to score."
The Eskimos' troubled start to the season continued as they fell to a woeful 1-5, worst in the CFL.
"It's so disappointing," said Esks receiver Jason Barnes. "We let one slip away again. We need to start finishing and hopefully we can turn this around."
Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray added the team is starting to feel snakebitten.
"That's what happens when you lose, there are a lot of what ifs," he said. "There are a lot of things that are just going against us. It's hard to explain. It has been a little of everything. Hopefully some of these bounces will start going our way."
Toronto showed some creativity on its opening drive as Lemon hooked up with Brandon Rideau on a flea-flicker for a 36-yard gain, but the Argos settled for a 35-yard Grant Shaw field goal.
On their next possession, the Argos took the ball 109 yards, capped by a 43-yard touchdown run by Boyd, who made the Eskimos defence look non-existent as Toronto took a 10-0 lead.
The Argos then added a single on a missed field goal for an 11-point lead after the opening quarter. The Argos had 181 first-quarter yards to Edmonton's 56.
Edmonton finally got on the board early in the second on a 48-yard field goal by Noel Prefontaine.
The teams exchanged singles from missed field goals before the Argos padded their lead with less than two minutes left on a 14-yard TD pass to Boyd, his second of the game.
Edmonton got into scoring range in the final minute after a successful punt fake but only got a field goal out of it to trail 19-7 at the half.
The Eskimos got their first touchdown of the night on their opening possession in the third as Arkee Whitlock took it in from the one yard out shortly after a critical 24-yard Fred Stamps reception on a pass from Ray.
Edmonton kept coming and put together a big-play drive to take its first lead 10 minutes into the third as Barnes made a 45-yard circus catch in the end zone. He beat out Lin-J Shell and Evan McCollough on a jump ball and ended up catching the pigskin with his knees to put Edmonton ahead 21-19.
The Eskimos caught a big break early in the fourth as Jason Goss picked off Lemon and took the ball back 49 yards to the Argos' 18. It appeared the official missed a pass interference call against the Eskimos on the play.
Jared Zabransky came in at quarterback and ran a bootleg into the end zone to give Edmonton a nine-point lead.
Toronto responded with a field goal to close the score to 28-22, setting up the last-minute dramatics.
The Argonauts return home to face Montreal next Saturday. Kickoff is 6:30pm on August 14th.