From flags to riches'Gades take advantage of Argos
By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun
Toronto Argonauts' Michael Fletcher (left) grabs Ottawa Renegades quarterback Kerry Joseph, knocking the ball loose and sacking him during action in Ottawa on Thursday, June 24, 2004. (CP Photo/Fred Chartrand)
There is something different now about the Renegades and it is not just the stunning 2-0 record for the third-year expansion franchise.
The Renegades put down the Toronto Argonauts 20-10 last night at soggy Frank Clair Stadium to take over top spot in the Eastern Division.
The difference is in their poise, their sense of purpose, the way they have unified and there is no better example than the way they have rallied around defensive end Keaton Cromartie and defensive backs coach Jaime Hill.
Both suffered losses in their families in the last week and the Renegades dedicated last night's effort against the Argos to the pair and their families.
"This was just a football game, but at the same we're like a family here," said Ottawa safety Kelly Wiltshire. "This was an escape for them. You have teammates who are hurting and this was a three-hour escape for them. You've got to go all out."
CROMARTIE LOSES MOTHER
Cromartie, whose mother, Charlyne, passed away last week the day of the win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Hill, whose sister passed away Wednesday, will both travel to their homes today.
"This meant a lot to me," said Cromartie, who helped a swarming Renegades defence, which did not yield a touchdown in a game for the first time.
"It was good for me to stay here and be with the guys. It was good to stay active. This game was on (satellite TV) and the family got together in Bradenton (Fla.) and had a chance to watch it. This was beautiful.
"The guys were flying around. We're buying into the system. We're fed up with losing and now we expect to win. We've got to win."
Playing in front of 20,241 rain-soaked fans, the Renegades took advantage of an undisciplined Toronto team which took 21 penalties for 192 yards, snuffing its own drives and extending the Renegades'.
When the Argos weren't shooting themselves in the foot, the Renegades defence was impressive.
Two big goal-line stands in the first half kept the Argos at bay.
After a fumble by Ottawa receiver Demetris Bendross, Renegades defensive tackle Jerome Haywood, establishing himself as a dominant player in the league, broke through to stuff Avery on a second-and-goal from the Ottawa seven. The Argos had to settle for a 16-yard field goal from Noel Prefontaine to open the scoring.
Late in the half, with the Argos first-and-goal from the Ottawa three, Cromartie stuffed Avery for no gain. Then Haywood sacked Argos QB Damon Allen for a six-yard loss and the Argos had to settle for another 16-yard field goal by Prefontaine.
The Renegades, who led 10-6 at the half, got a one-yard touchdown run from Josh Ranek (20 carries for 116 yards) while QB Kerry Joseph (13-for-24 for 186 yards) hit Yo Murphy with a 47-yard pass for their other major.
Rookie kicker Sandro Sciortino remained perfect on the season with field goals of 12 and 20 yards.
"The guys play for themselves, but they had a little something for their teammates (last night)," Ottawa coach Joe Paopao said of the effort on behalf of Cromartie and Hill.
"This is the start we were looking for. (The defence) had eyes (last night). They did a good job of minimizing (the Argos') big plays. That's how you win.
"It's a good start, but we have miles to go."