Argos rushing game in gear

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

It was not exactly a grand sea change, but the Argonauts gave us a glimpse of what to expect from their offence down the stretch and into the Canadian Football League playoffs.

It wasn't so much that they beat the faltering Ottawa Renegades 29-18, but how they accomplished it.

They did it by -- now, are you sitting down? -- running the football 22 times. More than that, the offensive scheme utilized the talents of Sean Millington to great success for the first time.

John Avery carried the ball 13 times for 68 yards and Millington had eight more touches for 55 yards. Quarterback Damon Allen added one more rush for seven yards.

Previously, Avery had averaged just seven rushes per game and Millington had carried only six times in his previous four games since coming out of retirement.

With all that going on, it still was Arland Bruce who stole the show with a handful of outstanding receptions, including two for touchdowns. In all, he caught five balls for 90 yards.

"We desire to have a balanced attack because we feel it makes us a better football team," head coach Michael Clemons said.

"We're a more proficient football team, the more balanced we can be.

"The real key again is we want to win football games. If we win a football game and we're unbalanced, I'm happier than if we lose a football game and we're balanced."

Clemons was smiling at the thought of the dimension that Millington brings to the offence.

"The Diesel is moving well and running well and I think it changes the dynamic of who we are as a football team with him in there doing what he does," Clemons said. "It is a great advantage when we can run the football, no doubt about it.

"Hopefully we can continue with this kind of balance and maybe even end up with a game where we run the game more than we throw the ball."

Millington scored Toronto's first touchdown last night late in the first half, powering in from a yard out

"This is the reason, in my mind, why I'm here," he said. "This is my specialty. I think the results tonight speak for themselves.

"I felt like I came in, in shape. It's not like I've been sucking wind and my tongue hanging out on the ground. It's more just a matter of getting acclimatized to the bruising, getting hit, getting your rhythm back."

The tandem of Avery and Millington -- Avery sliding to the outside and Millington doing the heavy lifting inside -- could be very important to the team's success as summer turns to autumn.

"If I may be so bold," Millington said, "I think one of the weaknesses in our team in the past was the total reliance on the passing game. You can be successful that way but it makes you less accessible to the defence scheming you up if you have a good running game."

With only a couple of outdoor games remaining on their schedule, the old adage of running the football in foul weather doesn't really hold water. Millington has a different take on the value of a strong ground attack as the season gets old.

"Late in the year, it's more important from the point of view that everybody is beat up," he said. "If you can get up and play smash-mouth football and get up in their grill, they're gonna get worn out."

Now, with five games remaining, including one more with the Renegades in Ottawa, the first-place Argos have opened up a three-win lead on the Montreal Alouettes. Toronto also has a much-needed 11-day break before they play host to the Edmonton Eskimos Oct. 10.

They're still a long way from being home and cooled out, but they're on the right path. Last night's game could have had nightmarish consequences for the Argos.

Instead, it may have shown the way to the future.


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