Eskimos defence roars

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Defensively they were perfect.

Had it not been for a shanked punt in the fourth quarter, the Edmonton Eskimos would have shut out the Toronto Argonauts in the second half of Monday's contest.

It was a stark contrast from the first half where the Argonauts offence moved the ball at will, scoring 17 points.

A single and an interception return for a touchdown had the Argonauts up 25-9 at half-time.

"I am pleased with the way we played in the second half," said Eskimos middle linebacker A.J. Gass. "And if we had put two of those (halves) together, we (would have won) this ball game."

Unfortunately for the Eskimos, it took a half to figure out the Argonauts offence.

TRICKY RICKY

Using Ricky Williams and John Avery in the same backfield, kept the Esks guessing through the first 30 minutes.

"They did a lot of misdirection to start off the game - send one guy one way and the other guy the other," Gass said. "They did a good job of their offensive line moving laterally and not giving us true reads. But I'm happy with the way the defence adjusted in the second half."

Williams and Avery combined for 137 yards rushing, the majority of it coming in the first half.

"They had no idea what we were going to do," Williams said. "What gives a defence a huge advantage is that they have a good idea of what we are going to do.

"I mean, they will have a better idea next week and it will be a little more difficult (for us)."

The second half was a different story. Offensively, the Eskimos began to move the ball methodically down the field, due in large part to the blocking of the offensive line and Troy Davis.

Defensively, the Eskimos began to put pressure on Argos QB Damon Allen.

"We wanted to try and shut down their running game in the second half," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "We were able to do that and we shut the door on them in the second half."

The only blemish defensively in the second half came on a 39-yard fourth-quarter field goal by Noel Prefontaine, which put Toronto up by five.

The field goal was a result of great field position for the Argonauts after Eskimos kicker Sean Fleming shanked a punt for nine yards on the Edmonton 42-yard line.

The loss dropped the Esks to 5-10 on the year, four points back of Saskatchewan for the final West playoff spot.

On Saturday, they'll host the Argonauts in the second game of the home-and-home series with Toronto.

IT'S A SHORT WEEK

Whatever adjustments the Esks made in the second half Monday, they know the Argos will try to counter.

"There is only so much that you can do because it's a short week," Maciocia said.

"I know both teams want to execute better. It'll be a question of who lines up and is able to make plays."

Mathieu Bertrand and defensive tackle Steve Charbonneau were both injured in Monday's game and will be re-evaluated this week. Bertrand lost feeling in parts of his body after taking a hit blocking on a punt return. Charbonneau's back problems flared up again.


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