EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos welcomed back former quarterback Ricky Ray on Saturday by beating him and his Toronto Argonauts 19-15 in CFL play.
Running back Hugh Charles ran in a touchdown and kicker Grant Shaw kicked four field goals to pace the Eskimos (1-0) to the victory in front of 35,538 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.
Running back Cory Boyd caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Ray for the Argonauts’ (0-1) lone major of the game.
Eskimo quarterback Steven Jyles, who was traded from Toronto to Edmonton as part of package deal for Ray, was effective in his first start.
Shaw, also part of the Ray deal, split the uprights from 44, 27, 42 and 29 yards.
Toronto kicker Noel Prefontaine added the other eight points off 30- and 47-yard field goals, and singles off a 45-yard missed field and a 61-yard punt.
Edmonton led 13-7 at halftime, then held on as Ray and the Argos ate into the lead in the final 30 minutes.
The Eskimos held the edge in field position in the first half while the Argonauts were undisciplined, taking 11 penalties for 61 yards.
The flags continued in the second half and proved costly early in the fourth quarter. Down 19-11, Ray threw a perfect 18-yard rainbow touchdown pass to wide receiver Spencer Watt only to have it called back for holding.
Prefontaine then tried a chip shot field goal, but the ball clanked off the right upright for zero points.
The Argos were poised to tie the game again with six minutes remaining after safety Jordan Younger jumped the route to intercept a sideline pass from Jyles intended for receiver Nate Coehoorn.
But the drive stalled when Edmonton defensive end Almondo Sewell sacked Ray at the 15-yard line, leading to another Prefonatine field goal and a 19-15 score.
Jyles, who started half the season for Toronto last year, had early success mixing runs by Hugh Charles with passes to Greg Carr, Coehoorn, Fred Stamps, and Bowman.
The Eskimos defensive line, led by Marcus Howard, pressured Ray for much of the game, forcing him to throw early or dump the ball off for little or no yardage. On the touchdown throw, Howard levelled Ray and put him on his back.
Ray had said he expected to be booed by Edmonton fans on his return.
Instead, he was given a 30-second standing ovation when he came out for his second series and his career Eskimo accomplishments were flashed on the end zone scoreboard.
Ray waved to the fans then returned to business.
The 32-year-old Ray played nine seasons for the Eskimos and won two Grey Cups while throwing for more than 40,000 yards.
The teams swapped touchdown drives in the first half, both sparked by long pass-and-run plays to slotbacks.
With the score 6-0 for Edmonton early in the second quarter, Jyles led the Esks on a nine-play, 85-yard drive to take a 13-0 lead.
The key play was a 38-yard pass-and-run play to Adarius Bowman. Bowman caught the pass near the line of scrimmage, broke a tackle then scampered up the sideline behind a phalanx of blockers.
The Argos answered back just before halftime with their own nine-play, 85-yard drive, highlighted by a 52-yard pass and run play from Ray to Chad Owens.
Running across the middle, Owens caught the ball at his shoetops, then tightrope-walked 20 yards down the sideline, evading tacklers, to the Eskimos’ five-yard line.
Ray then made a short pass to Boyd, who ran untouched into the end zone for the major.
Notes: It was a hot night. Head referee Andre Proulx was taken to hospital in the second half after being overcome by the 26 C heat. Head linesman Michel Pinsonneault took over for him.