THE PAIN IN THE RAIN
Franklin can’t get it done as Esks edge Argos in return matchup in soggy Edmonton
EDMONTON — Whatever happens to the Argos for the balance of the season, the one certainty is James Franklin.
The kid, who was forced to fill in for the injured Ricky Ray, is legit and now it’s up to the franchise to surround him with more explosive players on offence.
S.J Green can only do such and no one has stepped into the void left by DeVier Posey, who is with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
On a rainy night in the Alberta capital, Franklin did his best, but it wasn’t good enough as the Eskimos bested the Argos, 16-15, to avenge last week’s setback in Toronto.
Franklin needed help in his return to Edmonton, but penalties, dropped passes, an interception he threw on a tipped ball when the Argos should have attempted a field goal instead of gambling on third down, a kicking game that must be reviewed, the Argos needed to be clean and they weren’t, at least not clean enough.
Late in the game, Dylan Wynn was called for a spearing penalty when he led with his head on a fallen C.J. Gable, an ugly incident that left the crowd in silence as the medical staff tended to the talented tailback.
Gable was able to walk off the field.
A key second-down conversion moved the sticks and the game was effectively over as Toronto dropped to 1-3 as its tough stretch to begin the season now features a home and home against Winnipeg.
The Argos gave themselves a chance in the fourth quarter, overcoming the loss of starting linebacker Cassius
Vaughan and times when they left points on the field.
All things considered, to be down 16-15 with 4:15 left wasn’t so bad, a disadvantage that could have easily been to Toronto’s advantage had it executed better and exercised better discipline.
They were in it because the defence played well and Franklin was playing better than his counterpart, the CFL’s reigning MVP in Mike Reilly.
The Argos began the night by giving up a deep ball on Edmonton’s first possession, the Eskimos unleashing their vaunted passing game and taking advantage of some missed communication in Toronto’s back end.
On the same drive,
Edmonton, which loves to push it down the field, got a little greedy, a ball Reilly threw into coverage that was tipped and falling in the hands of T.J. Heath, who produced his first pick of the season.
Methodically and masterfully, the Argos moved the ball down the field, using one formation that had Declan Cross line up at tight end.
Franklin spread the ball and used his feet as the
Argos would score first by kicking a field goal.
The Argos had the ball three times in the opening 15 minutes, advancing past midfield on each occasion.
Toronto played clean football in all three phases, keeping
Franklin clean in the pocket and converting on third down.
When teams changed fields, the Argos maintained possession and mysteriously went for it on third down inside Edmonton’s 15, a down and distance that warranted a field goal.
Instead, the Argos rolled the dice with Franklin throwing an underneath ball that was tipped and resulted in an interception.
Credit the Argos for being aggressive, but the fact is they did leave points on the field.
Earlier in the drive, Franklin threw a dart to Llevi Noel at the pylon, a ball Noel could not secure.
The turnover allowed Reilly to go to work, using his arm and his feet on one play that moved the chains.
On another, Reilly broke containment and wouldn’t be denied, once again using his running ability and fearlessness to extend the drive.
Toronto’s defence held, forcing a quick throw when it applied pressure on Reilly.
Following the punt and a short return, the Argos regained possession at their 20 yard line.
Toronto generated one first down on a series where Franklin took some shots down field.
When they were forced to punt it away, Ronnie Pfeffer fielded a high snap and kicked it out of bounds on
the fly, which cost the
Argos 10 yards.
Edmonton took over possession from Toronto’s 48 yard line with 5:24 left in the opening half.
It didn’t take long for the Eskimos to hit pay dirt, a score set up when the Argos took a roughing penalty.
There was no flag thrown on the pass and run featuring Reilly and Jordan Robinson, who released out of the backfield to produce a 30-yard touchdown.
Replays showed a face mask infraction, but nothing was called.
So good to start the game, so bad, especially on offence, to finish the half.
There were too many penalties in the second quarter, not enough plays made and the field was tilted in Edmonton’s favour.
Edmonton Eskimos’ Monshadrik Hunter grabs Toronto Argonauts’ S.J. Green Friday night.