Argos' 'Pile Driver' lives up to his moniker

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

With his quick smile and easy-going demeanor, neither of Willie Pile's nicknames fit away from the football field.

But when it comes time to hit, we now know why they call the first-year Argo linebacker "Ill Will" and "Pile Driver."

In one crushing, blind-side hit Friday night, the former Virginia Tech star gave his team a huge leap towards a playoff berth.

Pile's pounding was the biggest play for the visiting Argos, who scored an 18-11 win over the Edmonton Eskimos Friday. The win moved the Boatmen to 6-7 and back in the thick of the CFL East playoff race.

With Montreal's 33-22 loss to Saskatchewan yesterday, their third defeat in a row, the Argos and reeling Als are both at 6-7 and suddenly tied for second in the division.

Pile's second-quarter smash of Eskimo quarterback Ricky Ray, was just the latest big play by the league's runaway leading defence.

As Ray crumpled to the Commonwealth Stadium turf with what is likely a season-ending separated shoulder, the Eskimos were as good as done, not only on Friday but possibly for this Saturday's return meeting here.

Trailing 10-6 at the point of brutal contact, Edmonton had to turn to unseasoned and overmatched backup Stefan LeFors.

Prior to being crushed, Ray had been moving the ball, completing 11 of 15 passes for 114 yards. But when Pile charged in on the blitz untouched, it was clear Ray would not get up.

"Not after that hit," Argos defensive coordinator Rich Stubler told Sun Media when asked if he was surprised the usually resilient Ray was down for the count.

"That was a blindside, full hit by a load of a linebacker."

With the win, the Argos moved a point ahead of Edmonton, which could become important because of the league's playoff crossover rules. That may be a moot accomplishment however, now that the Argos have drawn even with the struggling Als.

While the defence was once again the strength for the Argos, there were a couple of bright spots on offence.

Andre Talbot hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Michael Bishop, who is now 6-1 as the Argos starter this season.

Running back Robert Edwards, meanwhile, is starting to hit his stride. The mid-season pickup from the Alouettes ran for 112 yards on 17 carries, the biggest output by a Toronto running back in almost three years.

"This was as close (to a playoff game) as you can get," Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said after the game.

"Fighting our way back has been a long road. It really is a new day for us. We have a chance to go home and really be a front runner for a playoff position now."


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