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TORONTO — The Argos defence has plenty to be proud of after Sunday afternoon’s 42-26 win over the Eskimos at the Rogers Centre, considering it was the catalyst for a sequence of events that led to a second quarter that made history.
Down 7-0 in the second, it was the hit and forced fumble on Cory Boyd on second-and-short that truly turned momentum, leading to the Argos’ first touchdown of the game on a connection between Ricky Ray and Chad Kackert.
But not long after, there was another big play that really sparked the boatmen. As the Esks moved the ball following a deep Kerry Joseph completion to Fred Stamps, the Eskimos veteran pivot tried a shovel-pass to Hugh Charles while under duress.
The problem was, Marcus Ball got in the way of said shovel-pass, carrying the interception 53 yards to set up another Argos score.
“It was a pressure call, and me and Brandon Isaac pride ourselves on racing to the quarterback,” said the rookie linebacker. “Fortunately he beat me to the quarterback, and the pressure got home and the quarterback tried to get rid of the ball, and I just made a play on the ball.”
It was part of a 31-0 run in the second quarter for the Argos, marking the highest-scoring quarter in CFL playoff history and breaking a mark of 29 points that was set back in 1979.
While Ray and the offence took care of the rest from there, without such opportunistic play from the defence, there’s no telling what kind of game Sunday’s could’ve turned out to be.
“It’s amazing,” said Jordan Younger, now in his ninth season in the CFL and serving as a defensive team captain. “When you set out during the week you say this is what we’re going to do: we’re going to get turnovers, we’re going to play bump and run man to man, and we’re going to play hard on them.”
“And then to go do it, I’m just really proud of our guys. We took another step, and now we’re trying to get ready for Montreal.”
On paper the defence’s performance may have looked rather ordinary, with three forced turnovers, one sack, and 26 points against along with 369 yards of total offence surrendered.
What that means is that while the Argos took advantage of their chances on defence, there’s still plenty of work ahead – especially with Anthony Calvillo and the high-flying Alouettes next on deck.
“Once we watch this film, I’m pretty sure we’ve got some kinks to work out, some mistakes to get rid of,” reflected Ball. “They scored too many points. No matter if we won or not, we still feel like they scored too many points so we’ve still got things to work on.”
“We just want to continue building on it. Once we’re up and once we’re going, we try to continue that, we don’t try to let up.”
While Ball, who’s merely coming off his first career CFL playoff game, may know little about the Argos’ recent playoff past with the Alouettes, Younger’s seen all there is to see.
The veteran safety was just becoming an emerging playmaker on the team’s defence back in 2004, when the Argos eliminated the Alouettes in the Eastern Final at Olympic Stadium en-route to their first Grey Cup victory since 1997 the following week.
But outside of that game, the Argos have struggled to solve the Alouettes in the playoffs.
“Montreal’s been the source of my disappointment in my football career so many times,” said Younger, who’s been an Argonaut his entire career outside of one season with the Eskimos in 2008. “2005, ’06, ’07, ’08 when I was in Edmonton, 2010.”
“Montreal’s been the team that knocked me out, so I’m not looking past them at all. We’re getting ready for Montreal.”
– With files from Argonauts.ca