Swayze Waters’s right boot carries Argos past Redblacks
Swayze Waters gave the Ottawa Redblacks the boot Sunday afternoon.
Waters kicked two crucial fourth-quarter field goals to earn the Toronto Argonauts a wild 30-24 win over visiting Ottawa. Waters, back after missing six games with a knee injury, also had seven punts for a gaudy 50.6-yard average and posted a 65.8-yard mark on four kickoffs.
Waters also made a hard tackle on Ottawa’s Chris Williams on one punt return. Waters’s performance earned him a game ball after the contest.
“Yeah, it felt good, being out six weeks was tough,” said Waters, the CFL’s top special-teams performer last season. “But it’s great to jump back in playing with [my teammates] and getting the win.”
Waters, 28, a native of Jackson, Miss., is in his fourth CFL season and one of Toronto’s most important weapons. Last season, Waters led the CFL in scoring (192 points), field goals (47), punting (47.7 yards per attempt) and kickoffs (65.2 yards).
The six-foot, 180-pound Waters made 47-of-52 field goals (90.4 per cent) in 2014 with a league-best 53-yard boot. And on Sunday, his final three punts covered 59, 59 and 58 yards, respectively.
“Yeah, an unbelievable performance by him,” said Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich. “Actually, I shouldn’t even say that, it’s believable with Swayze.
Waters broke a 24-24 tie with a 34-yard field goal at 7:43 that was set up by Matt Black’s smart play on Andrew Wilder’s 33-yard punt. Black took the short kick in the air, resulting in a no-yards penalty that put Toronto at the Redblacks’ 30-yard line.
Waters then hit from 36 yards out with 2:04 remaining. Henry Burris marched Ottawa from its 35 to the Toronto 30-yard line before being sacked on third down with 41 seconds to play.
Burris, 40, finished 32-of-36 passing for 426 yards as Ottawa (4-4) suffered its second straight defeat to remain third in the East Division. Earnest Jackson had six catches for 114 yards while James Ellingson had four receptions for 110 yards.
But Ottawa was often its own worst enemy with 20 penalties for 228 yards.
“The only thing that’s holding us back now is mental mistakes,” Burris said. “We can’t take the stupid penalties that negate the drives or opportunities we have.”
Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell agreed.
“We need to clean that stuff up,” he said. “The good news is we’ve shown we can be a good football team but we’re not there yet.”
Toronto (6-2 for the first time since ’97), sported its white and powder blue third jerseys and survived a frantic fourth to earn its third straight win. The Argos moved into a tie with Hamilton (6-2) atop the East Division standings.
Jeremiah Johnson’s two-yard TD run just 18 seconds into the fourth tied the score 17-17 before Jerell Gavins put Ottawa ahead with a 29-yard interception return touchdown just 39 seconds later. That capped a 17-0 stretch for the Redblacks and was Trevor Harris’s first pick in 152 pass attempts.
But Harris countered with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Vidal Hazelton at 4:12 before a sparse Rogers Centre gathering of 14,748 on a glorious summer afternoon with the roof open. It was Toronto’s lowest home attendance since 2003.
“When things aren’t necessarily going well I like the look in his eye,” Milanovich said of Harris. “He came off and I kind of smiled at him and he was over it in that instant.
“He was fooled, they baited him. They kind of rotated at the snap and he thought there was not going to be underneath coverage and that guy just jumped it. It was a good play.”
Harris, who was 21-of-31 passing for 266 yards and three TDs to go with the pick-six, said nothing to Milanovich after the interception because he didn’t have to.
“I think like 80 per cent of our communication is non-verbal,” Harris said. “We looked at each other and just said like, ‘I know that was a bonehead play and we know we’re going to come back, we’re going to come through and win the game.”‘
Kevin Elliott and Tori Gurley scored Toronto’s other touchdowns. Waters added the converts and three field goals.
Johnson had Ottawa’s other touchdown. Chris Milo booted the converts and a field goal.