'Ugly win' moves Esks to 5-0

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:43 AM ET

EDMONTON - The Snowbirds flew overhead prior to kicking off Military Appreciation Night, but it was the Edmonton Eskimos who almost dropped a bomb, narrowly escaping Commonwealth Stadium with their unbeaten record Friday.

The Eskimos improved to 5-0 on the season with a 26-25 win over the Toronto Argonauts, relying on a pair of touchdowns set up by pass-interference calls to climb back from a first-half deficit of 16 points – their largest of the season.

“It was a win that we had to scratch and claw for, Toronto did an absolutely phenomenal job,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “We got the bounces when we needed them. We’re fortunate to come out with this win.”

The 32,478 in attendance watched Edmonton pull within six points with half a quarter to go on a 24-yard field goal by Damon Duval.

On their next drive, Jerome Messam trucked for 16 yards before Ricky Ray dialed up slotback Fred Stamps on three straight receptions covering 33 yards to gain the lead.

“That’s the only thing that mattered,” said Stamps, who had eight catches for 101 yards and the TD. “It was an ugly game all game, but as long as we came out victorious.”

For the second week in a row, the Eskimos defence had to come up with a big stop on third down, but Argos kicker Grant Shaw dialed up an attempt from 57 yards out in the dying seconds that died before getting anywhere near the end zone for the chance to tie.

“Ugly win, man. The defence did a great job,” said Eskimos centre Aaron Fiacconi, whose unit gave up two sacks for the first time this season. “They hung in there and won the game for us for the second week in a row.”

Both offences sputtered early, with Edmonton going ahead on a punt single before Toronto abandoned their pass offence, answering back with a five-play, 75-yard drive on the back of Chad Kackert’s three carries for 45 yards to lead 7-1.

He added an eight-yard sweep into the end zone to contribute to a 17-1 lead before the Eskimos scored a pair of touchdowns with help from pass-interference penalties by Toronto.

Marcus Henry snared a five-yard toss with one hand to trail 17-8 with 62 seconds left in the half.

Edmonton found themselves a yard from the end zone a second time before backup Kerry Joseph was stopped twice on the QB keeper.

With the Argonauts halfway to their locker-room, the officials put 1.5 seconds back on the clock and Joseph proved the third time’s a charm by leaping the line to trail by two heading into the third.

“We knew we needed to get the ball in the end zone,” said Joseph. “We had the opportunity to get some momentum on our side going into half time.”

The second half opened with Ricky Ray tying Doug Flutie for sixth on the CFL all-time completions list with a 24-yard pass to Fred Stamps.

The Eskimos defence came to play in the third quarter, with an interception by cornerback Jykine Bradley followed by a pick in the end zone by cornerback Rod Williams, but the offence was held off the board after scoring in each of the last 19 quarters.

Toronto kicked off the final frame with an 81-yard punt-return touchdown by Matt Black to lead 25-16.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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