EDMONTON – Chad Kackert recovered a fumble in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown, as the Toronto Argonauts pulled off yet another stunning comeback win, 34-22 over the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday night in Edmonton.
The Argos' veteran running back returned from injury with a major statement, rushing for 156 yards on 13 rushes to lead the Argos to 33 unanswered points in the second half, marking their fourth straight win on the road -- all of which have come from behind.
Kerry Joseph threw for 197 yards but also had two interceptions, as he stepped in for the injured Mike Reilly, who was forced out of the game in the second quarter and did not return.
For two teams that were making headlines offensively coming into the weekend, the defences set the tone early in this one.
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» Images: TOR at EDM
» Video: Chambers beats Argo 'D' for six
» Video: Joseph, Stamps connect for score
» Video: Kackert accellerates, finds paydirt
» Video: Inman pulls Boatmen closer
» Preview: Collaros vs. Reilly in Edmonton
After the opening two possessions opened with punts, Argos’ defensive back Patrick Watkins made the game’s first big play, hauling in an errant deep ball by Reilly for his fourth interception of the season.
But after a personal foul penalty set them back 15 yards, the Boatmen couldn’t cash in on Watkins’ third interception in two games, and the early battle for field position continued midway through the first quarter.
Down to the Argo 43-yard-line after a 17-yard gain by Adarius Bowman, the Eskimos caught a break when a second Reilly interception was called back on a 15-yard facemask penalty by Ricardo Colclough.
Penalty trouble again haunted the Argos soon after, as they had Reilly wrapped up on a second-and-long for the sack – but were hit with another 15-yard personal foul after a head-to-head hit. Of more concern on the play was the health of Reilly, who appeared shaken up after the play.
Yet as he’s done so many other times this season, Reilly unleashed the warrior within. On the ensuing play he found Shamawd Chambers in the back corner of the end zone, and the second-year receiver out-dueled defenders for the 17-yard score.
The touchdown pass marked Reilly’s 21st of the season to give the Eskimos an 8-1 lead near the end of the first quarter, however bad news followed for the Esks as Reilly was taken out of the game directly after.
With Joseph under centre though the Eskimos were calm and cool, as the long-time veteran pivot did some with his arm and some with his legs to move the offence into Argo territory.
Once again aided by a 15-yard personal foul against the Toronto defence, Joseph finished off a methodical 12-play, 85-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Fred Stamps.
Fred Stamps had his 10th touchdown catch of the season from Kerry Joseph, and also eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the fifth straight season.
» More Fred Stamps
That increased Edmonton’s lead to 15-1, and gave Stamps his 10th touchdown of the season in his 100th career CFL game.
The Argos couldn’t seem to drum up any offence for the rest of the first half, as Zach Collaros was picked off by Marcell Young to end one drive, before being sacked by Marcus Howard to end the very next.
That ended a frustrating first half for the Boatmen, during which they committed seven penalties for 85 yards and amassed just 83 total yards of offence.
The Eskimos, meanwhile, had a two-touchdown cushion through 30 minutes, but were also forced to move forward without Reilly under centre as the 28-year-old failed to return after being injured in the second quarter.
After a stellar first half from their defence, Joseph and the Esks helped their cause with some offensive production to start the second half. First Joseph connected with Nate Coehoorn on the deep ball, before then finding Stamps and John White for consecutive first downs.
From there Joseph finished off the drive with his legs, fighting through a crowd of defenders for a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Eskimos a decisive 22-1 lead.
The Argos though, known recently for their ability to manufacture second-half comebacks, weren’t about to go down without a fight. After Swayze Waters nailed a difficult 50-yard field goal, Watkins added to the momentum with his second interception of the night on a Joseph deep ball.
No sooner than the next play from scrimmage, Kackert in his first game back from injury found a seam and accelerated like only he knows how, going untouched for a 49-yard touchdown and quieting a spirited Commonwealth crowd.
The sudden touchdown cut the deficit to 22-11, bringing the Boatmen within range heading into the fourth quarter.
It wouldn't take long for the Argos to get yet another chance after that, as a quick two-and-out got the offence back on the field. After a pivotal second-down conversion by Collaros to Andre Durie, Almondo Sewell was flagged for roughing the passer, moving the Double Blue back within scoring distance.
The re-energized Kackert struck with a 19-yard burst on the next play, before Dontrelle Inman finished off the quick scoring drive with a diving catch in the end zone from 10 yards out. The Argos went for two after the score, and Collaros hooked up with John Chiles to made it a three-point game.
After another big stop on defence and a long punt return from Trent Guy, the Argos appeared set to possibly take their first lead of the night. This time, however, the Edmonton defence would have none of it, as Howard followed up two Collaros completions with his third sack of the night, forcing the Argos to try a chip shot field goal from Waters.
Then again, nothing in the CFL is a guarantee, and not long after striking from 50, Waters missed his third field goal of the night, leaving the Argos with just one point to show for their efforts.
The Esks couldn't take control after that however, as Joseph was hit hard on the blitz and coughed up the fumble. Picking up the loose ball was none other than Watkins, who returned the ball all the way inside the Eskimo five-yard-line.
From there, Collaros looked to score himself, but he also fumbled -- only to have the ball jumped on by Kackert in the end zone, giving the Argos the touchdown and their first lead of the evening, 27-22.
The Eskimos threatened to re-gain the lead shortly after, but their comeback bid with a minute left fell short when Joseph was picked off by Marcus Ball, who sprinted 57 yards for the defensive touchdown to seal the deal.
The defensive touchdown marked a run of 33 unanswered points for the Boatmen, who had 21 points off turnovers to pull off another stunning fourth-quarter comeback on the road. More stunned than anyone else, meanwhile, were the Edmonton Eskimos, who passed on the opportunity to win their third straight game.
Toronto now holds a six-point lead over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for top spot in the East Division, and returns home after a month-long absence to face the Ticats next weekend.
They made CFL history with the win, going on the road for four straight and winning all of them. They were just the fourth team to even attempt such a feat.
The Eskimos on the other hand look for another win at Commonwealth next weekend, as they look to rebound against the Montreal Alouettes in a game with major playoff implications.