TORONTO – Kerry Joseph came off the bench in impressive fashion, helping to lead his Edmonton Eskimos to a 26-17 win over the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre Monday night.
All of the chatter heading into the contest was the group of players taking on their old team. Ricky Ray and Steven Jyles got their second and final regular season opportunity to take on the team that traded them. Meanwhile it marked Cory Boyd’s first time back at Rogers Centre since being released by the Argos two weeks ago.
Another former Argo making his return to Rogers Centre for the first time was placekicker Grant Shaw who got the Eskimos on the board first when he booted a 22-yard field goal. The Esks scoring drive started after they pinned the Argos deep and following a wobbly Swayze Waters punt, scrimmaged from Toronto’s 44 yard line. The Argos defence held the Esks to a two-and-out but Ricky Foley helped keep the drive alive with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty after hitting Jyles after he threw.
The Argos looked to respond and moved the ball well, but sophomore Edmonton linebacker JC Sherritt, jumped in front of a Ray pass and picked off his third ball of the year. The Eastern Washington product entered the game with a grasp of the league-lead in tackles with 58.
The Esks would drive down the field, with the help of a 49-yard pass interference penalty on Argos DB Ahmad Carroll, and add to their lead. First, Boyd ripped off an 18-yard run up the gut before another former Argo, Kerry Joseph, took the ball over the goal line with ease for the major. Joseph entered the game after Jyles was shaken up after taking a hit from defensive end Ronald Flemons.
Joseph would remain at quarterback on the Eskimos drive. Carroll, however, made a point not to let Joseph beat him this time, intercepting the pivot’s first pass of the drive and helping set up a 17-yard Swayze Waters field goal a few plays later to cut the Edmonton lead to 10-3.
Joseph would settle in on the next possession though, leading an 8-play, 50-yard drive, resulting in a 32-yard Shaw field goal.
Ray’s former defence continued to confuse the Argonauts signal-caller as Donovon Alexander picked off a pass on Toronto’s next drive to set up a 12-yard Shaw field goal. The Eskimos entered the locker room at halftime with a 16-3 lead but it was the Argos that came out firing in the second.
After a solid Chad Owens kickoff return, Ray drove the Argos to their first major of the game, finding rookie Dontrelle Inman in the back of the endzone for a 16-yard touchdown to cut the Edmonton lead to 16-10. It counted as Inman’s third touchdown of the season.
The Esks would force Toronto to punt from deep in their own end on the next set of downs after forcing Ray to concede a sack. They would scrimmage on the Argos’ side of the field and Shaw would continue his perfect night, powering through a 50-yard field goal to extend the lead to 19-10.
Collective ground game
Although Cory Boyd didn’t exactly rack up the yardage in his return to Toronto, he did help the Esks keep the ball moving on the ground. The former Argos tailback teamed up with Hugh Charles and QB Kerry Joseph to generate a total of 156 yards and 2 touchdowns on 28 attempts.
The Argos were having trouble beating an Edmonton defence that seemed to have every man covered downfield. The Argos defence, however, gave Ray and the offence something to work with when he dove in front of a Joseph pass and intercepted it inside Esks territory.
Two plays later, the Argos would strike again. This time it was Boyd’s replacement Chad Kackert who took a handoff on a third down gamble and raced 34-yards for the touchdown to cut the lead to 19-17.
Kackert originally took the handoff up the middle from Jarious Jackson, who was in the game with the short yardage offence, but bounced it outside after getting a block from an unlikely source – linebacker/defensive end Ejiro Kuale who was lined up as a fullback.
Joseph and the Esks would march right back, however, when the former 2007 Most Outstanding Player found Fred Stamps down the sidelines for a highlight-reel one-handed grab totalling 44-yards. Running back Hugh Charles would scamper 10 yards for the major on the very next play to put the Eskimos back on top by nine.
As the final quarter wore on the Argos simply couldn’t consistently solve the vaunted Eskimos defence which was swarming to the football and mixing up their coverages. They eventually would stop Ray on three straight pass attempts to Inman in the final two minutes to come home with the 26-17 win.
Next Week: The Argonauts will head for their final Labour Day appearance at Ivor Wynne as they take on the Ticats. BUY TICKETS The Esks travel to McMahon Stadium for their version of the Labour Day Classic. BUY TICKETS