TORONTO – Hosting their first playoff game since 2007, the Toronto Argonauts put on a dominating performance in the Eastern Semi-Final against the Edmonton Eskimos. The 42-26 victory places the Argonauts in the Eastern Final for the first time since 2010.
The main storyline heading into Sunday’s Eastern Semi-Final was whether the Argos’ could control the line of scrimmage and avoid the dangerous, J.C Sherritt. However, just moments prior to kickoff, the Eskimos announced that Sherritt would be inactive on Sunday due to an ankle injury.
Despite the absence of Sherritt, the Eskimos would strike first as Kerry Joseph would orchestrate a methodical nine-play, 91-yard drive capped off by an 11-yard Cary Koch touchdown reception. The big play on the touchdown drive came courtesy of Hugh Charles as he rumbled 46 yards deep into Argos territory.
The Argonauts opening offensive possession was not as successful as the Eskimos’. Jarious Jackson would fumble the football in a second and short situation and thankfully for the Boatmen, they managed to recover and avoid sure disaster.
On the final play of the opening quarter, former Argonaut, Cory Boyd would cough up the football deep in Eskimos territory. Argos defensive tackle, Ronald Flemons would dive on top of the football and secure possession for the Boatmen.
The Argos would capitalize on the turnover as Ricky Ray connected with Chad Kackert for a 12-yard score, evening the game at 7-7.
Early on in the second quarter, Chad Owens would electrify the Argos’ faithful once again as he returned a Grant Shaw punt 59 yards into the end zone, giving the Argonauts their first lead of the football game. The return touchdown was Owens’ first since October 10, 2011 against the Montreal Alouettes.
On the ensuing Eskimos offensive drive, Marcus Ball would pick-off Kerry Joseph and scamper 53 yards deep into Eskimos territory. The Argos’ would convert the turnover into points, as Ricky Ray would find Maurice Mann for an 11-yard touchdown.
The Boatmen would continue their second quarter dominance, as Swayze Waters would extend Toronto’s lead to 24-7 on a 34-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Argonauts would continue to add to their commanding lead, as Ricky Ray would cap an eight-play, 70-yard drive with a 7-yard rushing touchdown. The rushing touchdown was Ray’s first of the season and extended Toronto’s lead to 31-7 heading into halftime.
The Argonauts’ 31 consecutive points in the second quarter are the most scored in any quarter in CFL playoff history.
With a large deficit to overcome in the second half, Eskimos Head Coach Kavis Reed attempted to generate a spark offensively as he benched Kerry Joseph in favour of rookie quarterback, Matt Nichols. Nichols’ first drive of the second half would result in a 36-yard Grant Shaw field goal, making it 31-10.
On the ensuing Eskimos offensive possession, Nichols would suffer a devastating leg injury. Argonauts defensive tackle, Ronald Flemons awkwardly fell on Nichols’ left leg. He was carted off the field with six minutes remaining in the third quarter and was immediately taken to a local Toronto hospital.
Swayze Waters missed a 52-yard field goal with less than one minute remaining in the third quarter, resulting in rouge, extending the Argonauts lead to 32-10.
Waters would make good on his next field goal attempt as he split the uprights from 38 yards out extending the Argos lead to 35-10.
Kerry Joseph would attempt to bring the Eskimos back within striking distance with a 16-yard touchdown run. The Esks’ would convert the two-point conversion as Joseph connected with Fred Stamps.
However, the Argonauts were simply too much for the Eskimos on Sunday afternoon. Chad Kackert would seal the deal with a 22-yard touchdown run with 2:28 remaining in the football game.
Kackert concluded the game with 88 yards rushing, 51 yards receiving, and two touchdowns.
Ricky Ray finished Sunday’s Eastern Semi-Final 23-of-30 with 239 yards passing and three total touchdowns.
Maurice Mann led the way in the receiving game for the Boatmen. Mann recorded seven catches for 82 yards and one touchdown.
The Argonauts will now head to Montreal next Sunday afternoon to take on the Alouettes in the Eastern Final.
The Boatmen are just one win away from making a trip to the Grey Cup for the first time since the 2004 CFL season.
Final Stat Line
Ricky Ray: 23-of-30, 239 yards passing, two touchdown passes, 16 yards rushing, and one rushing score
Chad Kackert: 15 carries, 88 yards rushing, one touchdown, 51 yards receiving, and one receiving touchdown
Chad Owens: Three receptions, 15 yards receiving, 96 return yards, and one touchdown
Swayze Waters: 2-of-3 on field goal attempts
Marcus Ball: Four tackles, one interception
– Daniele Franceschi –