VANCOUVER – Two interceptions and an early 21-0 deficit didn’t shake Scott Milanovich’s belief in his quarterback.
And Trevor Harris repaid his head coach’s faith with another stunning road victory.
Ronnie Pfeffer nailed his third field goal of the night with 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter as the Toronto Argonauts stormed back from an early hole to down the B.C. Lions 30-27 on Friday night.
The rookie kicker’s 29-yard attempt capped an impressive rally led by Harris, who threw two touchdown passes to go along with those two interceptions for the Argonauts (3-1).
“(Milanovich) came up to me after the picks and said ‘Hey it’s a long game, brother. I believe in you and we’re going to get this,'” said Harris, who finished 30 of 40 passing for 340 yards to go along with a rushing TD. “It was awesome to hear that. You’ve got to keep grinding.”
Starting in place of injured No. 1 pivot Ricky Ray, Harris has led the Argonauts to three wins in Western Canada to start the season while Rogers Centre is occupied by the Pan Am Games.
“It’s another growing game for him,” said Milanovich. “You have to be able to work through that. To be able to be a great quarterback you’ve got to be able to bounce back and have no memory.”
Toronto plays its first game in Ontario next week with a visit to Hamilton to take on the Tiger-Cats before hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 8.
“I was a little concerned this week (playing on the road) was wearing us down,” said Milanovich. “We didn’t talk about it a whole lot, but I could tell that the guys were getting worn down … kudos to our guys for hanging in there.”
Andrew Harris ran in two scores and added another through the air in the game’s first 15 minutes 40 seconds as the Lions (2-2) wasted that early lead. Travis Lulay finished 18 of 32 passing for 165 yards with one touchdown and one interception in what was his worst performance of the young season.
“We let that one get away from us,” said Harris, who accounted for 129 yards of offence. “It just seemed like we stopped making plays.”
With the score tied 21-21, Richie Leone nailed a 39-yard field goal with just over six minutes remaining for the home side’s first points since early in the second quarter.
But Trevor Harris drove his team back the other way and hooked up with Natey Adjei with 3:31 to play to give the Argonauts their first lead at 27-24 after Pfeffer failed to connect on a 32-yard convert attempt.
Shaq Murray-Lawrence returned the ensuing kickoff to Toronto’s 35-yard line, but B.C. could only attempt another field goal, which Leone nailed from 42 yards to tie the score with 2:22 on the clock before Pfeffer booted the winning points.
“Our guys are very confident,” said Milanovich. “They’re new to the CFL, but they think they’re good and when you believe that you’ll never quit. In the CFL games are never over.”
Down 21-7 at the half, the Argonauts cut the Lions’ lead to 11 on Pfeffer’s 33-yard field goal early in the third.
B.C. turned the ball over on downs in Toronto territory later in the quarter and Trevor Harris drove his team down the field before scoring on a two-yard plunge that with a two-point convert pass to Kevin Elliott made it 21-18.
Pfeffer then nailed a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth to tie the game.
The Lions were coming off back-to-back wins over Saskatchewan and jumped out to a big lead largely on the back of Andrew Harris.
After an interception by Cord Parks, Andrew Harris touched the ball five times on a nine-play, 73-yard scoring drive that culminated with his 10-yard TD run.
Trevor Harris was then picked off for a second consecutive drive to start the game on Toronto’s next possession to give the Lions the ball at midfield, with Lulay eventually hooking up with Andrew Harris on a 25-yard TD.
The running back then made a nice spin move on B.C.’s next drive to score from seven yards out for his third TD to make the score 21-0 after Leone’s third extra point of the night.
Trevor Harris finally responded with 54-yard touchdown pass to Elliott with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 21-7 and give the Argonauts life.
“I made a couple bonehead throws, and that comes with playing the position,” said Harris. “I almost lost the game for my team. We were a resilient group today and we came back. We battled and I’m just proud of the guys.”
Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter