Argonauts beat Edmonton Elks with dominant 2nd half

EDMONTON — It was A.J. Ouellette’s turn to add 18 points for the 18-times Grey Cup champions Toronto Argonauts.

Ouellette scored three rushing majors as the Toronto Argonauts beat the Edmonton Elks 43-31 at Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday.

Quarterback Chad Kelly – who a week before added three rushing scores of his own – connected with receiver David Ungerer III for a passing touchdown and kicker Boris Bede made all three of his kicks on the evening.

Returning defensive back Jamal Peters forced a fumble on veteran receiver Eugene Lewis inches away from the end zone and Royce Metchie added a pick-six in the fourth quarter to seal the victory and push the defending champions to 2-0.

Quarterback Taylor Cornelius had a passing major to running back Kevin Brown, but was pulled midway through the third quarter in favour of backups Kai Locksley and Jarret Doege. The former played only one snap but ended up fumbling the ball on a handoff as the latter came in to finish the game for the home team.

Doege finished with two passing touchdowns to receiver Vincent Forbes-Mombleau, both in the fourth quarter.

Returner C.J. Sims had 285 return yards and Defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy added two picks – one of them for six – in the losing effort for a now 0-3 Elks team.

Box Score: Argos, Elks by the numbers

Cornelius needed a good first drive after last week’s performance, but a blitz by Toronto on second down put an end to the possession after Ardarius Pickett sacked Edmonton’s pivot and forced the punt.

Kelly’s initial march also went nowhere. Two incompletions had Toronto in their new white uniforms punting the ball away back to the home team.

C.J. Sims gave his team a spark in the ensuing return taking the ball all the way to the 54 yard-line. A quick pass from Cornelius to receiver Steven Dunbar Jr. got Edmonton across midfield and a couple plays later the quarterback took off on a scramble and got a new set of downs. A late-hit penalty on the play moved the ball all the way to Toronto’s 13-yard line. From there it was Brown coming out of the backfield to catch a pass from his signal-caller for the first score of the evening, 7-0.

A.J. Ouellette got things going for the Argos in the next possession with a couple of runs through the middle to move the chains. Kelly then found Harris on a wheel route before connecting with a tackle-breaking Dejon Brissett to take it to Edmonton’s 42-yard line. Faced with second-and-15, Toronto’s pivot then found DaVaris Daniels to beat cover-2 for another first down, before rushing through the middle all the way to the three-yard line. The drive then ended how it began: with Ouellette rushing through the middle as the Argos evened the score, 7-7.

A big run by Cornelius got the fans at Commonwealth Stadium excited once more, but a Folarin Orimolade-sack a few plays later forced Edmonton to leave the field without scoring once more.

Starting deep into their own territory, Kelly and the Argos were trying to put together a go-ahead drive, but Purifoy had other plans as he jumped a short pass to wide receiver Cam Phillips and took it all the way to the end zone to retake a 14-7 lead for the home team.

Kelly came right back unfazed and found Brissett for a big gain to engineer another scoring possession. A three-point one, though, as an incompletion on second down got Boris Bede a chance to cut the lead to 14-10 halfway through the second quarter.

A quick Elks’ two-and-out gave the visitors another chance to potentially drive for the lead, but they had to settle for a single after a couple of Ouellete’s runs moved them far enough for punter John Haggerty to reach the end zone and cut the lead to 14-11.

The Green and Gold took the field with under five minutes to go in the first half looking to extend the lead, but after getting a couple of first downs, defensive lineman Brandon Barlow sacked Cornelius for an eight-yard loss that pushed them out of field-goal range and pretty much put an end to the drive.

With under two minutes to go, Kelly moved the chains with another scramble before connecting with Phillips for a big gain across midfield. Double Blue’s pivot then escaped a sack and found Ungerer III streaking down the left sideline to take the lead for the first time in the evening, 18-14.

Cornelius and the Elks got one more chance to retake the lead in the first half with under 60 seconds to go. Quick passes to Lewis and Brown later, wide receiver Kyran Moore made a couple of defenders miss after the catch to take it to Toronto’s 30-yard line. No. 3 then caught another long one from Edmonton’s pivot to the 11-yard line but with the clock showing only four seconds left, the home team was forced to send Faithfull in again to cut the lead to 18-17 going into halftime.

Kelly and the Argos got right back to work to start the third quarter. A roughing the penalty passer moved the chains before Ouellette bruised his way to move it once more until Phillips caught a long one behind the secondary to make it first-and-goal from the three-yard line. Two plays later Ouellette broke the plane of goal once more – and Kelly added a two-point coversion run of his own – to extend the lead to 26-17 in the visitor’s favour.

Another two-and-out by the home team gave Ungerer III and the defending champions another chance to make a big play, this time on special teams. The wide receiver beat the blocking off the edge to get to punter Julien Jake and block the kick, giving the Argos great field position to start the drive.

Kelly rewarded his receiver by going straight to him on his following pass, connecting with Ungerer III and then fellow National Brissett to advance all the way to Edmonton’s four-yard line. Double Blue then went to back to No. 34 for his third score of the game.

The Green and Gold went to Locksley at quarterback to start the next drive, but a fumble on the handoff to Brown ended in a fumble recovered by Toronto to continue a second-half dominance by the visitors.

Kelly got his offence to the nine-yard line but this time Edmonton’s defence forced third down and Bede came in to make it 36-17.

The hosts went to Jarret Doege  for the next drive and he immediately connected with Dunbar for a 21-yard completion, before another nine-yard catch by No. 7 made it second-and-one. Two straight stops by the Double Blue turned the ball over on downs to the visitors once more.

Edmonton got their revenge for the turnover on downs with a stop on third down of their own as backup Cameron Dukes was stopped shy of the first to give the home team a bit of momentum early in the fourth quarter.

Dewayne Hendrix sack on Doege forced yet another Edmonton two-and-out.

Offensive lineman Isiah Cage left the game with an injury in the next drive for the visitors that ended in a punt.

Sims broke a long return for the third time in the game and gave his team their best chance to score in the second half with a little over eight minutes to go in the fourth. They almost accomplished that feat but Peters punched the ball out of Lewis’ hands inches away from the end zone to keep the score intact.

The Green and Gold defense again made a play to keep their team in the game as Purifoy caught a deflected Kelly pass for his second interception of the game.

The momentum quickly evaporated though as Metchie cut a pass intended for receiver Dillon Mitchell and returned it for a score to push the lead to 43-17.

The highlight of the Elks’ evening was Sims once again breaking his fourth long return of the game with a litttle over five minutes to go in the game. It led to another touchdown as Doege scrambled and found Forbes-Mombleau in the end zone to cut into the lead, 43-25 after a successful rush by Edmonton’s pivot on the ensuing two-point conversion.

There was still time for Doege to make one last play, escaping the rush and finding Forbes-Mombleau deep for an 84-yard touchdown to make it 43-31 after the Elks failed to convert.

The Elks open Week 4 against the REDBLACKS in Ottawa on Friday, June 30, while the Argos go back home to host a red-hot BC Lions on Monday, July 3.

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