Ricky Ray broke Rider Nation’s heart in Sunday’s Eastern Final.

The veteran quarterback drove the Toronto Argonauts down the field for a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of Sunday’s Eastern Final to lift Toronto to a 25-21 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“It’s a tough loss, any time you lose a football game of that magnitude, it’s tough regardless of how you lose it,” said Riders head coach Chris Jones after the game.  “The kids fought their butt off and I’m proud of them and I just left a strong locker room of guys in there.”

The Riders went in front for the first time with just over two minutes remaining thanks to 18 points in the fourth quarter, but Ray orchestrated a massive game-winning drive that was capped off by a one-yard touchdown by back-up quarterback Cody Fajardo with 23 seconds left in the game.

“When you’ve played good defence all day and then right there when you need it, you can’t get a stop and get off the field, it was tough,” said Jones.

“Ray made a perfect throw there to Wilder when he had to have it, that’s advantage Ricky Ray.  That’s a good football team over there and for the biggest majority of the game, defensively (we) held really strong.”

The Argonauts will now face the winner of the Western Final in the Grey Cup in Ottawa next Sunday.  With the Riders’ loss, still no crossover team has been able to advance to the championship game.

This was a season of incredible turnaround for the Riders, who went from 5-13 in 2016 to just one play short of advancing to the Grey Cup.

“Nobody gave us a chance, they were ready to run our coaching staff out of town and we’ve got a great group of guys in the locker room and we’ve got a great coaching staff, bunch of really good people, they enjoy being around one-and-another and neither group minds working, they work their butts off, I couldn’t be more proud, but unfortunately we fell a bit short,” said Jones.

After trailing all game, including 18-3 heading into the fourth quarter, Riders returner Christion Jones finally put Saskatchewan in front with a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown with 3:19 to go in the game.

Brandon Bridge replaced Kevin Glenn at quarterback for the entire second half and put together a massive performance in the final quarter to get the Riders back into the game. He finished 11-of-21 for 135 yards and an 11-yard touchdown to Duron Carter, who had six catches for 93 yards.

Glenn threw three interceptions in the first half as Toronto built up a 17-3 halftime lead.

Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray was sharp throughout the game, completing 28-of-39 for 266 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Former Riders defensive lineman Shawn Lemon had three sacks in the win for Toronto.

The Riders’ season ends one win short of a return to the Grey Cup.  The team will now return to Saskatchewan and clean out their lockers on Monday before heading their separate ways for the offseason.