EDMONTON — Their quarterback went down, but the defence was there to pick the Edmonton Eskimos back up on Saturday afternoon.
Linebacker Dexter McCoil scored a pair of touchdowns and backup quarterback Matt Nichols was solid when called upon as the Eskimos held on to win their third game in a row, defeating the Toronto Argos 41-27.
The Eskimos improved to 7-1 on the season, something they last accomplished in 1989. That was the same year Edmonton started 9-1 and finished with a CFL record 16 victories (16-2).
The win looked to have come with a high cost. Quarterback Mike Reilly suffered a hand injury early in the game and was unable to return, putting the ball in Nichols’ hands for the majority of the contest. However, post-game reports indicated it is not expected to be a long-term absence.
Nichols said he was relieved to be able to help the team capture the win, despite having a bit of rust to deal with.
“Aside from the pre-season, where you get a lot of basic looks, this was my first game action since 2012 where the defence was changing things on the fly and bringing different blitzes,” he said. “I felt like, overall, I handled it pretty well and executed our game plan.
“We were able to get first downs when we needed to, the defence obviously kept us in it, but that last drive, we went out there and got three first downs and really sealed the game for us.”
Eskimos head coach Chris Jones wasn’t thrilled that his team had to come up big at the end of the game to seal the victory, especially after holding a commanding 31-10 lead at the half.
“The second half, we didn’t play as good,” he said.
“We were, quite honestly, a little bit flat in the third quarter, had some turnovers and things like that. But still, you’ve got to come out and shut the door on people.”
The Argos lost their second straight game to drop to 3-6, but remain in first place in the struggling East Division.