Esks play like it’s 1989

SundayXtra - - FOOTBALL -

seethed Toronto head coach Scott Mi­lanovich. “You can’t do that against a good team. You have to come out of the tun­nel ready to go. You have to have the guys cranked up. “I was not pleased.” Toronto quar­ter­back Ricky Ray agreed that his team did a lot of dam­age to them­selves.

“We just had too many bad plays there and kind of dug our­selves a hole,” he said. “Our de­fence got us a cou­ple of early turnovers and we just didn’t cap­i­tal­ize on that. Then we turned the ball over and they had some big plays. We dug a hole that was hard to fight back out of. It’s tough to do against a good team like them, to give them that much.

“They are a good de­fence and when you play a good team like that, you can’t spot them a lot of plays early on and ex­pect to come back and win.”

Ray fell short of his goal of be­com­ing the youngest quar­ter­back in CFL his­tory to hit the 50,000 yards pass­ing mark, only get­ting 277 of the 369 yards he needed to reach the mile­stone.

Both teams’ de­fences looked sharp in the early run­ning, with Toronto catch­ing the first big break when Ni­chols had the ball knocked loose into the arms of de­fen­sive line­man Tris­tan Ok­palaugo, al­though the Ar­gos couldn’t make any head­way af­ter the play. Ni­chols came in early af­ter Reilly left the field to have his throw­ing hand looked at, even­tu­ally go­ing for X-rays in the sec­ond quar­ter and not re­turn­ing to the game.

Ed­mon­ton coughed the ball up again in their own ter­ri­tory with six-and-a-half min­utes to play in the open­ing quar­ter as Devon Bai­ley reeled in a Ni­chols pass but then fum­bled on his own 41, with Argo Bran­don Un­der­wood re­cov­er­ing the ball.

This time Toronto took ad­van­tage, as the turnover even­tu­ally led to a 17-yard touch­down pass from Ray to Ja­son Barnes for a 7- 0 Ar­gos lead with three min­utes to play in the first.

The Eski­mos pulled even less than two min­utes later, though, as Ken­dial Lawrence took a hand­off and slipped off a tackle be­fore turn­ing on the jets and burn­ing 61 yards into the end zone. It was Ed­mon­ton’s long­est of­fen­sive play of the sea­son to date.

The Eski­mos got the ball back at the Toronto 48 early in the sec­ond quar­ter on an in­ter­cep­tion by McCoil. On the next play Ni­chols hit A. J. Guy­ton with a hitch pass and Guy­ton sped across the goal-line to put Ed­mon­ton up 14-7.

The Eski­mos de­fence got in on the scor­ing with a high­light reel play with six min­utes to go in the sec­ond. Odell Wil­lis blocked a Ray pass and then plucked the ball out of the air and headed 18 yards to­wards the end zone be­fore pitch­ing it back to McCoil, who took it the re­main­ing 28 yards to give the Green and Gold a 24-7 lead.

Ed­mon­ton padded its lead with a minute left in the first half as third­string QB Pat White came in and called his own num­ber for a five­yard TD run. Ed­mon­ton put the game away for good as McCoil picked off Ray and ran the ball back for a 19yard touch­down with 12 seconds left.

Both teams re­turn to ac­tion on Labour Day Mon­day.

— The Cana­dian Press

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