EDMONTON — Steven Jyles stole the spotlight from Ricky Ray in his return to Edmonton, as the Eskimos hung on to a 19-15 win over the Toronto Argonauts Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Jyles completed 21 of his 36 passes for 236 yards, while Ray completed 31 of his 41 attempts for one touchdown and 302 yards.
In Ray’s first drive from scrimmage, the 32-year old quarterback connected on his first pass, a 15-yard toss to slotback Chad Owens. However, the drive would eventually stall two plays later, forcing punter Noel Prefontaine to kick his first punt of the new season.
Much like his counterpart, Jyles completed his first pass as well, an 11-yarder to Greg Carr.
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However, the Eskimos were also unable to generate much traction on their opening possession, giving way to Burke Dales to make his first punt in an Eskimos uniform.
Edmonton would open the scoring on their next drive, with Grant Shaw connecting on a 44-yard field goal with just over eight-minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Shaw’s field goal capped off a six-play, 15-yard drive that began with excellent field position due to an errant punt by Prefontaine.
Toronto’s offensive woes would continue in the first quarter, as veteran running back Jeff Johnson fumbled on the first play of their ensuing possession, with the ball being recovered by Esks defensive back Rod Williams.
The turnover would prove to be costly for the Boatmen, as Shaw connected on his second field goal of the quarter, increasing Edmonton’s lead to six.
In the second quarter, the Eskimos offence would begin to generate some traction both on the ground and through the air.
Jyles, alongside his tailbacks Charles and Calvin McCarty would put together a string of second-down conversions.
However, it was a 38-yard reception by Adarius Bowman, followed immediately by a 14-yard pass to sophomore Nate Coehoorn that would swing momentum in the Green and Gold’s favour, as they marched into the red zone for the first time.
Two plays later, Charles would punch in his first touchdown of the season, giving Edmonton a 13-0 lead.
With less than three minutes remaining, the Argonauts offence would finally begin to gel.
Ray would complete consecutive passes to Jason Barnes and Owens, with the latter taking it 52 yards downfield into the Edmonton red zone.
On the very next play, Ray would complete a five-yard pass to tailback Cory Boyd, cutting Edmonton’s lead to six.
The score capped off a seven-play, 82-yard drive by the Argos.
The second half began with the Eskimos padding their lead thanks to a third field goal by Shaw, this time from 42 yards out.
Though they had seemingly began to mesh in the late stages of the first half, the Toronto offence was unable to find their rhythm in the early parts of the second.
While Ray was able to bring them within field goal range, Prefontaine’s attempt sailed wide right into the endzone, forcing the Argos to settle for a single point.
On Edmonton’s next possession, Shaw would continue to be the team’s main offensive threat, connecting on his fourth field goal of the game, this time from 29 yards out.
However, on Toronto’s next drive, Ray would complete a deep 36-yard pass to Andre Durie that set up a 47-yard field goal by Prefontaine to bring the Argos within eight.
After a two and out by the Esks on their ensuing possession, the Argos engineered a strong drive that saw Ray connect on three consecutive passes to three consecutive receivers.
He would eventually find receiver Spencer Watt in the endzone for a touchdown, however, the score was called back due to a holding penalty on Wayne Smith.
They would leave the field with no points due to a missed field goal by Prefontaine.
With less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Jyles would be intercepted on an acrobatic catch by Jordan Younger.
However, despite the good field position, the Argos would only be able to cut three points from Edmonton’s lead, thanks to a 30-yard field goal by Prefontaine.
Following the three minute warning, Ray would begin to orchestrate another drive from deep inside his own territory.
He completed two consecutive passes to Owens and Barnes for first downs. However, with 45 seconds remaining in the game and facing third down, a completed pass to Owens wasn’t enough to move the chains, giving the Eskimos a win.