CFL: Edmonton Eskimos hang on for one-point win over Toronto Argonauts

EDMONTON – Mike Reilly proved he is still the master, besting his former protege James Franklin as the Edmonton Eskimos emerged victorious from the second half of a home-and-home against the Toronto Argonauts Friday night.

D’haquille Williams recorded 123 receiving yards and a touchdown while Reilly threw for 258 yards and two scores, and the Eskimos avenged their Week 4 loss against the Argos with a victory at home.

Reilly got the Eskimos off to a quick start on the first play from scrimmage, throwing a laser to slotback D’haquille Williams for a big gain. Reilly didn’t waste time before looking deep downfield again two plays later, but a tipped ball was snatched up by Argos DB TJ Heath in the end zone, and Toronto took over possession.

Former Eskimo James Franklin picked up where he left off in last week’s victory, leading the Argonauts into field goal range on their first drive, andRonnie Pfeffer made no mistake drilling the 42-yarder to put the Argos up 3-0.

Receiver Armanti Edwards got himself involved in the Argos passing attack late in the first quarter, getting up to grab a pass down the middle before bouncing off a tackle and adding some extra yards on a big gain. Though the Argos only managed three points in the first quarter, Franklin posted an impressive 125 yards passing while completing all but one of his eight attempts.

Attempting to ride the hot hand, Head Coach Marc Trestman decided to go for it on third-and-six deep in Eskimos territory, looking to score the game’s first major. But Franklin’s pass was tipped, and this time it was the Eskimos who grabbed the turnover in the shadow of their own goalposts, holding the Argos pointless on a promising drive.

The Eskimos, held in check for much of the half by a tenacious Argos defence, finally broke through in the final minutes. Back-up running back Jordan Robinson made a quick catch in the flats and followed his block perfectly before showing off his speed, streaking down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown. Sean Whyte’s conversion was good and the Eskimos took a 7-3 lead.

After a two-and-out by the Argonauts, the Eskimos were poised to strike again, as Reilly threw a picture-perfect pass to Williams that looked destined for a touchdown. But Argos DB Ronnie Yell had a different idea, flying in with a perfectly timed hit, separating man from ball and holding the Eskimos to a single on the ensuing punt.

The two teams headed into halftime with just five points separating them, although the Eskimos were riding momentum into the break after scoring the game’s first touchdown late in the half.

Reilly continued to roll into the second half, leading his team on a methodical 10-play drive on their first possession. Despite the pouring rain which intensified as the game wore on, Reilly had no problem finding his receivers with consistency, completing seven of eight attempts on the drive, including a 10-yard strike to Williams in the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the night.

Williams was penalized after the touchdown for objectionable conduct, and that seemed to light a fire under Franklin and the Argos. Franklin wasted no time finding SB S.J. Green for a 14-yard gain, tacking on an additional 15 yards after a roughing the passer penalty was called on the Eskimos. Just a few plays later Wilder Jr. was rumbling into the end zone, cutting into the Eskimos lead and giving Toronto their first major of the game.

Down by five, the Argonauts opted to go for two points, and Franklin found Green wide open to narrow the deficit to just three as the third quarter came to an end.

An O’Neill punt single extended Edmonton’s lead to four points early in the fourth quarter, but Toronto’s defence locked down Reilly as they attempted to complete the comeback.

Franklin continued his hot run of play on the ensuing drive, completing all six of his attempts as he marched the Argos into field goal range. Ronnie Pfeffer saw his field goal bank in off the left upright, and Toronto trailed by just one point in the late stages of the fourth quarter.

A scary moment occurred late in the fourth quarter as the Eskimos attempted to run out the clock, as RB CJ Gable went down with a head injury. He left the game and will be evaluated.

In the end, it was Reilly who made an emblematic final play; taking the ball down himself and scrambling for the first down, officially sealing the victory for the Eskimos.

Next week the Argonauts will look to get back to their winning ways when they head home to face off against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Eskimos will rest up following the hard-earned victory before heading to Montreal in Week 7 to face off against the Alouettes.

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