First-half burst lifts Eskimos over Argos
Edmonton, AB (SportsNetwork.com) - Dexter McCoil picked off two passes and returned one for a key late touchdown, as the Edmonton Eskimos reeled off 31 straight points in the first half and then held on in the second half to take down the Toronto Argonauts, 41-27, on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
Matt Nichols ended up 15-of-28 with a TD and two interceptions for the Eskimos (7-1), the West Division leaders who have taken three in a row since losing to Calgary in late July. Edmonton last opened a season winning seven of eight back in 1989.
Starter Mike Reilly exited on the club's first possession with a right thumb injury.
Kendial Lawrence and Pat White added rushing scores, while Adarius Bowman totaled 87 yards on eight receptions.
Ricky Ray finished with 277 yards passing and three interceptions, but threw scores to Jason Barnes and Chad Owens for the Argonauts (3-6), who have lost two in a row but still lead the East Division.
Owens made his return after missing five weeks with a mid-foot injury and posted seven catches for 92 yards, but left midway through the third quarter with a leg injury.
Lawrence busted free for a 61-yard rushing score before the end of the opening quarter which evened the score at 7-7, Nichols found A.J. Guyton for a 48-yard catch-and-run TD early in the second, Grant Shaw was good from 49 yards away, then an Odell Willis tip and pick of a Ray pass wound up as a lateral to McCoil for a 24-7 game.
The Esks assumed a 31-7 edge on White's five-yard rumble to paydirt, but Swayze Waters' boot from 36 yards on the final play of the half cut the visitors' deficit to 21.
Waters hit two field goals to open the third, from 22 and 42 yards away, then Owens successfully reached for the near pylon at the left sideline and brought Toronto within 31-23 on an 11-yard score.
After a single and 26-yard make from Shaw, Waters was good from 45 yards away with 1:44 on the clock and the Argos were within 34-27.
McCoil, however, killed Toronto's next drive by intercepting Ray a final time and rolling 19 yards for the deciding touchdown with 12 seconds to play.
Ray's 17-yard connection to Barnes put the Argos on top early in the contest, but Edmonton stole the momentum completely from there.
Ray, who starred in Edmonton, should hit the 50,000-yard plateau in Toronto's next game, at Hamilton on Sept. 1. At that time, he'll become the sixth quarterback in CFL history to reach the milestone ... Teams from the West improved to 21-3 over clubs from the weaker East this season.
08/23 20:19:44 ET