Eskimos still hurtin'

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:29 PM ET

A day later, it’s still sore.

The Edmonton Eskimos were back on the field briefly Saturday, trying to shake off the memory of another disappointing outing.

“In time you put it behind you, but it’s still very much in all our minds, but more importantly, it’s in our hearts because you have the icky feeling,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “We started off slow, climbed the hill, got over the top, but then relinquished the hill to them.

“I was very proud of the guys for battling back, but we have to find a way to close out the game, and we had the opportunity.”

The Eskimos dropped to 1-5 on the season with a 29-28 loss to the Toronto Argonauts on Friday.

The Argonauts scored the winning touchdown with 22.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter after driving the ball 94-yards down the field.

The Eskimos had spotted the visitors a 15-point lead before battling back in the second half to take a 28-19 advantage, which they eventually squandered.

“If you look at our football team, we’ve been an inconsistent football team,” Hall said. “There are times when we’ve done things and other times when we haven’t done things.

“We have to try and squeeze that gap where there aren’t so many peaks and valleys. That’s what every team strives for, to make those peaks and valleys as small as possible.”

The Eskimos were dominated in the first half, specifically by Argonauts running back Cory Boyd.

The CFL’s leading rusher ran through the heart of the Eskimos defence for a 43-yard touchdown in the first quarter, then made a diving catch in the end zone in the second quarter.

Boyd capped off his 164-yard rushing day by scoring the winning touchdown on a one-yard plunge.

“Defensively in that first half, we just got our butts kicked,” said Hall. “We have to get in our gaps and we have to wrap up when we get a chance to put a hat (helmet) on them.”

To their credit, the Eskimos were a different team in the second half.

With the exception of the long winning drive, defensively they kept Boyd in check and limited the Argonauts to a field goal through most of the half.

“We just challenged ourselves to have a better half,” said linebacker Maurice Lloyd. “We ran the same defence, we didn’t change anything, we just did what we did the first half, we were just more aggressive.”

The loss leaves the Eskimos in a deep hole, heading toward possibly their toughest stretch of the season.

They face the Calgary Stampeders next Sunday at McMahon Stadium before hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders the following week.

They’ll then take on the Stampeders again in the Labour Day Classic before hosting Calgary in the return five days later.

“There’s always talk about how it’s never how you start, but how you finish,” Lloyd said.

“The first third of the season is over and we have two-thirds of the season left to go.

“It’s up to us individual men to step up and challenge ourselves and challenge each other to get better.”

Having already seen their general manager fired, the Eskimos are aware more changes could be in the works if things do not turn around.

“This is our job, either you do your job or you get fired,” Lloyd said. “When people start realizing that they’re going to see new faces in here and old faces out of here, maybe it’ll start waking people up.

“Until then, you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask what you’re going to do to get better.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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