THE PAIN IN THE RAIN

Franklin can’t get it done as Esks edge Ar­gos in re­turn matchup in soggy Ed­mon­ton

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

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.

IAN KUCERAK/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos’ Mon­shadrik Hunter grabs Toronto Arg­onauts’ S.J. Green Fri­day night.

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