LeFors time to shine

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

It's called baptism by fire for Stefan LeFors.

The Edmonton Eskimos' playoff hopes now largely rest on the shoulders of the rookie quarterback after star pivot Ricky Ray suffered a separated shoulder last night in an 18-11 loss to the Toronto Argos.

One massive blindside hit by linebacker Willie Pile with 6:22 left in the second quarter has put Ray on the shelf for an undetermined period of time.

With the Eskimos now one point behind the Argos for the final playoff spot in the East Division and two points behind third place Calgary in the West Division, LeFors is the go-to guy at the most important position on the team.

"I got to make the best of it and shine," said LeFors.

"It was a tough position to be in (last night).

"Obviously their defence is a little bit different from the defence we have been seeing all year.

"Obviously I made mistakes out there that were kind of costly."

When Ray left the game - and potentially the Esks' season - the Green and Gold were trailing 10-6 after spotting the Argos a 10-0 lead.

But LeFors wasn't able to generate a single touchdown drive the rest of the game. In fact, the Esks have now failed to score a major in two straight games.

"It was a difficult spot (for LeFors)," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia, "because he doesn't take the majority of the reps (in practice).

"You can have a 10- or 12- or 14-year vet and he is going to have his troubles versus this defence.

"So for a guy who goes in and takes 30% of the snaps throughout the course of the week it is never an ideal situation."

LeFors finished last night's tilt in front of 31,056 fans at Commonwealth Stadium going 11-for-22 for 66 yards.

But the biggest statistic is the one interception he threw early in the third quarter into the hands of Toronto linebacker Michael Fletcher.

On the very next play, Toronto scored a touchdown on a 19-yard pass to Andre Talbot - his second major of the game - to make it 17-9.

With Sean Fleming missing two field goals - from 29 and 36 yards - and the offence's inability to find a serious rhythm, Toronto was never in danger the rest of the way.

Even though the defence only allowed eight second half points and the special teams unit delivered a blocked punt courtesy of Ron Warner, it was all for naught.

The Esks now face the daunting task of preparing LeFors to face Toronto's defence again next weekend while trying to find another pivot to come into town.

It's amazing how quickly a season can turn after just one hit on a quarterback who usually gets back to his feet.

"Through the years I have seen him take many hits and bounce right back up and get in the huddle and call the next play," said receiver Jason Tucker on Ray - who was known as Gumby for his ability to take those hits and get up.

"This is the first time I have seen him just stay down and not get back up.

"It was kind of hard to see that."


Videos

Photos