The glitz and glamour of the Canadian National Exhibition’s midway on Friday brought out the largest attendance (16,490) for the Toronto Argonauts in 2019.
But the real show was put on by the Edmonton Eskimos offence.
Led by quarterback Trevor Harris, Edmonton (6-3) gained 509 yards from scrimmage, including 420 through the air, en route to a 41-26 victory over the home town side.
Wide receivers DaVaris Daniels and Greg Ellingson were Harris’ primary targets, combining for 325 yards and two touchdowns to drop the last-place Argos to 1-7.
Daniels had his best game of the season, racking up 155 yards on five catches, including two for over 50 yards.
“We just wanted to get down there,” said Daniels, “They just called my number and we made plays. We just executed when they came my way.”
Despite his own standout performance, Daniels credits his quarterback for the team’s success.
“I think he should be in the conversation for M.O.P. (Most Outstanding Player). He’s elite, said Daniels, a Notre Dame alumnus. “He’s the leader of our team and he’s been balling ever since he got here.
“He’s a man on a mission, and I think everyone is seeing it now.”
Harris was dominant in the contest, throwing for three touchdowns while not turning the ball over. He also punched in two rushing touchdowns from short yardage, the second coming with 3:16 left in the fourth quarter, putting the game on ice.
“He did a great job. He was commanding the offence the way it needs to be commanded,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas.
Asserting their dominance early on, Edmonton capitalized on Toronto’s struggling defence, scoring three touchdowns on their first three drives.
“We started off fast,” said Maas. “Offensively we played to our capabilities for most of the game.”
Harris’ accuracy throwing deep to his receivers kept the Argo defenders off-balance, paving the way for the Eskimos to take aggressive but calculated risks.
With 27 seconds left in the first half, the Edmonton attack stayed on the field on a third-and-one situation with the ball on their own 44-yard line.
Moving the chains with the gutsy quarterback sneak, led to a 57-yard catch-and-run by Daniels to set up a field goal as the clock turned to zeros.
“We’ve been working on that since Week One, that’s the type of team we want to be” said Daniels, “We want to be aggressive, we want to play fast and get the defence on their heels a little bit.
“I think tonight we finally have shown glimpses of what we can be, and I’m excited for it.”
The Eskimos defence also employed the aggressive mantra in rushing Argos quarterback, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, racking up four sacks in the first half. The also forced the Boatmen’s signal caller into using his check-down options for minimal gains.
Eskimos move on to an important battle with the first-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home on Aug. 25. Edmonton lost its last match up to the Bombers by a single touchdown in Week Three.
“It’s all about next week. We play at home against Winnipeg next week and that is all our focus is going to be on,” said Maas, “It’s big because it’s Winnipeg. It’s big because they got one on us already.
“We need to go out and defend our turf.”