Toronto Argos hand Edmonton fifth straight loss
Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray, left, looks to make a pass during second half CFL football action against the Edmonton Eskimos in Toronto on Saturday, September 16, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 16, 2017 7:49PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 16, 2017 7:51PM EDT
TORONTO -- Martese Jackson returned a missed field goal for a 125-yard touchdown and James Wilder Jr. ran for 190 yards as the Toronto Argonauts hung on to upset Edmonton 34-26 Saturday, handing the Eskimos their fifth straight loss.
Edmonton scored 11 unanswered points late in the fourth -- and had a TD called back -- to make it interesting.
Down by eight points, the Esks had the ball at their own 37 with 2:12 remaining and Mike Reilly hit Bryant Mitchell for 60 yards after a Toronto defender tripped. Facing a third and seven at the Toronto 10 after the Esks lost a pass interference challenge, Reilly was hammered into the ground by a blitzing Matt Black to end the comeback.
It's been a cruel reversal of fortune lately for the Eskimos (7-5-0), who opened the season with seven straight wins. Edmonton last lost five straight in 2013.
It marked only the fifth win by an East team against the West in 26 outings (4-21-1) this season. Coming into the game, Toronto (5-7-0) had lost two in a row and five of its last six. And the Argos were 0-5 previously against the West.
Only 13,182 were on hand at BMO Field to see a wild late-afternoon game on a warm Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night.
Jackson and Wilder, who had just 11 carries on the night, broke the Eskimo spirit.
Jackson raced down the sideline like an Exocet missile midway through the third quarter after punter Hugh O'Neill, filling in for the injured Sean Whyte, missed a 42-yard field goal. Jackson's spectacular score gave Toronto a 31-15 lead but did not beat the club record (129 yards) for a return on a missed field goal return.
Wilder was a one-man wrecking crew, racing 76 yards for his first CFL TD and accounting for 50 yards on another Toronto TD drive. Chosen over Brandon Whitaker on the day, the Florida State big man had more than 100 yards rushing midway through the second quarter and finished the half with 168 combined yards.
Wilder continued to carve his way through the Eskimos in the second half, with four runs for 79 yards alone on one fourth-quarter drive.
Previously this season, the six-foot-two 232-pounder had run 40 times for 177 yards in 12 appearances. Wilder, whose father is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' all-time leading rusher, spent time with Cincinnati and Buffalo before joining the Argos as a free agent in March.
Toronto's Ricky Ray threw a TD pass to Armanti Edwards and backup Cody Fajardo hit S.J. Green. Lirim Hajrullahu kicked two field goals.
Edmonton's Reilly threw touchdowns to Brandon Zylstra and Trevor Van, who also ran in for a TD. O'Neill added a field goal and single.
The Toronto defence made life difficult for Reilly with Victor Butler, back from the injured list, hammering him late in the first half.
Down 7-0 early, the Argos led 24-14 at the half after scoring on four straight possessions.
Edmonton only managed a single in a poor third quarter. Hajrullahu padded the lead to 34-15 with a field goal in the fourth.
The Eskimos cut the lead to 34-23 in the fourth with a Reilly TD throw to Van and two-point conversion at 6:38. And things got interesting when Adam Konar intercepted a tipped Ray pass to take over at the Argo 33.
Toronto intercepted right back, but the play was negated by an illegal contact penalty. Reilly found Williams in the endzone to continue the comeback but it was called back on a challenge for offensive pass interference.
Edmonton settled for a field goal, cutting the lead to 34-26.
The Argos had an awful start with Ray fumbling the ball after being sacked on his second offensive play. Two plays later, Van ran from the 12-yard line in for a 7-0 lead just 2:06 into the game.
A 52-yard TD pass to Declan Cross on a fullback screen was called back due to holding midway through the quarter. An Eskimo pass interference call kept the drive alive and short yardage quarterback Fajardo hit Green for a one-yard TD to cap a 12-play 86-yard drive and tie it at 7-7.
With Wilder pounding the Edmonton defence, the Argos moved into a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter when Ray hit Edwards for a three-yard TD to cap a seven-play 56-yard march.
O'Reilly pulled Edmonton even quickly, finding Zylstra behind the defence for a 46-yard TD to cap a four-play 78-yard drive. Toronto answered in one play as Wilder, helped by Ray's bootleg fake, knived through the Eskimo defence for 76 yards and a 21-14 advantage.
Hajrullahu added a field goal for a 24-14 halftime lead.