Eskimos 36 Argonauts 10
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos got the prefect boost for their playoff hopes — a game against the down-and-out Toronto Argonauts.
T.J. Hill returned an interception 58-yards for a touchdown to start the third quarter as the Eskimos staved off post-season elimination with a 36-10 victory over the Argonauts on Friday night.
“It was a great win because we have been struggling lately,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall.
“Our backs were to the wall and we fought like cats out there. It was good not only to win, but to win one in a convincing manner.”
The Eskimos (8-9) will advance through to the CFL East semifinal if Hamilton and Winnipeg (both 7-9) suffer losses over the weekend. Hamilton hosts Saskatchewan on Saturday while Winnipeg plays in Montreal on Sunday. Hamilton and Winnipeg face each other on the final week of the regular season.
Edmonton could also still secure a spot in the Western semifinal if B.C. (8-8) loses to Calgary on Saturday and the Eskimos next Friday.
“We did some good things out there,” said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray, who threw for 332 yards in the contest. “It was important for us to get a lead and play from in front for once. We have to continue to play entire 60-minute games like I felt we did tonight. It was nice to see everything emerging for us offensively. It’s going to be a tougher test next week with everything that could be on the line.”
It was the seventh consecutive loss for the Argos, dead last in the league at 3-14.
“I really didn’t see what I wanted from my team tonight,” said Toronto head coach Bart Andrus. “I wanted to see a lot more. There are guys that are making a case for themselves, both ways, right now. We are going to be revamping again and changing personnel so we have to see who fits.”
Toronto finished up with some rather embarrassing statistics in the game, with just 20 yards rushing and taking 23 penalties for 155 yards.
Edmonton started the scoring midway through the first quarter. Derek Schiavone kicked a field goal after an Efrem Hill reception in the end zone was ruled out of bounds.
The Eskimos caught a break as linebacker Tim St. Pierre fell on a bobbled Argos snap at the Toronto 32-yard line, leading to an eight-yard untouched run into the end zone by Arkee Whitlock on the final play of the first quarter.
Edmonton went up 17-0 midway through the second as they followed up a 34-yard pass to Fred Stamps to the Toronto 20 with an eight-yard passing touchdown from Ray to Jason Barnes.
Justin Medlock’s 26-yard field goal got the Argos on the board with four minutes to play in the first half.
Edmonton responded with a field goal before Toronto cut the lead to 20-10 with its first touchdown of the game. Quarterback Stephen Reaves’ tipped pass was caught by Chad Lucas for a one-yard touchdown.
The Eskimos didn’t take long to respond to the Argo touchdown. Hill picked off Reaves and took the ball 58 yards into the end zone to make it 27-10. It was the only scoring play of the third quarter.
Schiavone kicked three more field goals in the fourth quarter for a total of five on the night.
Edmonton finishes off the regular season next Friday in B.C. while Toronto wraps things up at home to Montreal next Saturday.
Notes: Edmonton kicker/punter Noel Prefontaine didn’t play due to an ankle injury that has been nagging him the past couple weeks. Backup Derek Schiavone took his spota Eskimos receiver Maurice Mann missed the game with a leg injury and was replaced by Efrem Hilla Toronto rookie DT Etienne Legare took on the long snapping duties as TE Steve Schmidt sat out with an injurya DB/CB Sammy Joseph got his first CFL start in place of veteran CB Jordan Younger who missed the game with a toe injurya The Argos have had their way with Edmonton in recent years, winning eight of the previous 10 games against the Esks… The Eskimos entered the game just 1-4 on Friday nights this seasona The Argos have been the only team worse than Edmonton in the giveaway/takeaway ratio at -19 to Edmonton’s -16a Edmonton eliminated Toronto from the playoff picture two weeks ago.