RUN­NING WILD

James Wilder Jr. bull­dozes Eski­mos for 256 to­tal yards in Arg­onauts’ up­set win

Toronto Sun - - SPORTS - FRANK ZICARELLI fzi­carelli@post­media.com

It was a game that was nearly lost by the Arg­onauts, a game that had it all and was capped off by a dra­matic and con­tro­ver­sial ending.

James Wilder Jr. rushed for 190 yards — an un­heard of num­ber with the passhappy Ar­gos of re­cent years — Martese Jack­son went end zone to end zone on a missed field goal and Toronto na­tive Matt Black, who was ac­tu­ally cut by the Ar­gos ear­lier in the sea­son, put the ic­ing on the cake with a sack and forced fum­ble with 91 sec­onds re­main­ing as the visit­ing Edmonton Eski­mos were threat­en­ing to tie it up.

All in all, it was a great day for foot­ball at BMO Field, and a very good 34-26 win for the Ar­gos, who now im­prove to 5-7.

The start wasn’t ex­actly ideal, es­pe­cially for an Ar­gos team com­ing off a bye week. But when there’s a break­down in pro­tec­tion and a vet­eran quar­ter­back fails to se­cure the foot­ball, turnovers are in­evitable. This one hap­pened to ar­rive on the se­cond play from scrimmage.

And sud­denly, the Ar­gos were trail­ing 7-0.

The end was just as un­ex­pected, a late-game se­quence fea­tur­ing a chal­lenge flag that went Toronto’s way, the Black sack and Cody Fa­jardo at quar­ter­back, and not Ricky Ray.

It marked the first time this sea­son the Ar­gos have beaten a Western op­po­nent and one of the few times when they dom­i­nated the line of scrimmage. But it also came on an af­ter­noon

when the Ar­gos lost the turnover bat­tle, took 10 penal­ties and lost time of pos­ses­sion.

“We found a way to do it,’’ said Ar­gos head coach Marc Trest­man, who pulled all the right strings. “It wasn’t easy. We turned the ball over, we gave up an ex­plo­sive play on of­fence in the fourth quar­ter (lead­ing to an Edmonton score) and yet we were able to find a way to win a game and that’s the im­por­tant thing. “We had the grit to do it.” There was an el­e­ment of good for­tune to it, as well. Edmonton (7-5 with its fifth loss in a row) dropped what ap­peared to be a pick-six, its spe­cial teams couldn’t con­vert when drives weren’t fin­ished and a chal­lenge flag was about to be thrown by Trest­man dur­ing the game un­til

some­one pointed out how only 10 sec­onds re­mained be­fore a TV time­out.

As it was, Trest­man held on to the flag and used it in the fre­netic fi­nal mo­ments for a pass in­ter­fer­ence call in the end zone that drew a flag, but was over­turned once video re­view took ef­fect.

“We’ve got to do a bet­ter job in the fourth quar­ter,’’ said Trest­man when asked what he learned about this group. “We gave them a chance to get back in the game.

“The other side, the pos­i­tive side, we cer­tainly found a way to win on that last drive, so to speak. We were able to hang on to the foot­ball and not give them an­other shot down the field.”

Wilder Jr., start­ing in place of Bran­don Whi­taker, pro­duced

256 yards rush­ing and re­ceiv­ing, in­clud­ing a 76-yard touch­down run on the se­cond play af­ter the Eski­mos had tied it 14-14.

Jack­son then re­turned a Hugh O’Neill missed field goal for a touch­down, a side­line run of 125 yards in the third quar­ter to ex­tend the

Boat­men’s lead to 24-15.

But it wasn’t un­til the Ar­gos were ahead 34-15 that the Edmonton of­fence fi­nally showed signs of life, Mike Reilly hit­ting Travon Van for an eight-yard TD strike, with the two-pointer to Derel Walker cut­ting the Toronto lead to 11 with 8:05 to play.

All of a sud­den, it be­came a two-score game, the 13,182 fans at BMO Field no longer as­sured of an Ar­gos win.

The game then had its mo­ment of sus­pense when a tipped ball was picked off by the Eski­mos, giv­ing Edmonton ex­cel­lent field po­si­tion at Toronto’s 33 yard line, the se­cond turnover by the Ar­gos.

Johnny Sears Jr., who was beaten in man cov­er­age ear­lier in the game by Bran­don Zyl­stra, picked off Reilly, but it was over­turned on an Ar­gos’ penalty, giv­ing Edmonton an ex­tra set of downs. An Ar­gos off­side call then placed the ball on Toronto’s four yard line.

Two plays later, Reilly threw a great cor­ner route D’haquille Wil­liams, who caught it just in­side the touch line. But Trest­man threw a chal­lenge flag, ar­gu­ing Wil­liams in­ter­fered with de­fen­sive back Alden Darby. The TD was over­turned, Toronto’s de­fence stood tall and Edmonton set­tled for a field goal.

Fol­low­ing a two-and-out by the Ar­gos, the Eski­mos had the ball back with 2:12 re­main­ing. Reilly, with no pres­sure, went deep on the first play, con­nect­ing with Bryant Mitchell, who got be­hind Sears Jr. be­fore Mitchell was tack­led by Black at Toronto’s 13.

Again, the Ar­gos de­fence stiff­ened and forced a third and goal at the 10, Black sav­ing the game with his sack.

The Ar­gos then went with a curve by hav­ing Fa­jardo at quar­ter­back, the big, mo­bile pivot us­ing his legs to move the chains and ef­fec­tively seal the win.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Arg­onauts’ Martese Jack­son scoots out of his own end zone en route to a 125-yard touch­down re­turn of a missed Eski­mos field goal yes­ter­day at BMO Field. It was one of the high­lights of a sur­prise 34-26 vic­tory by the Dou­ble Blue.

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