The Toronto Argonauts defence shone in a 35-12 win over the Edmonton Elks on the team’s 150th birthday, Friday night at BMO Field in Canadian Football League action.
Edmonton was held to just one point in the second half of a dominant display from the home team that fielded their full starting lineup despite having clinched first place in the East Division on Sept. 15.
Elks starting quarterback Tre Ford was picked off twice in the game, once by Argo linebacker Wynton McManis, his third interception in the past two starts.
“Hopefully it’s a habit, it’s always easy to break bad habits, but right now I’ve got some good habits going,” said McManis, in the locker room post-game. “I’m just staying on top of everything that I’m doing outside of the field, off the field, and it’s working and starting to show.”
The Memphis native not only intercepted Ford’s pass, but with 5:35 left in the third quarter went the distance with it for an 83 yard pick-six which sent the Argos to a 28-11 lead.
“It’s hard man, I kind of got a lot more respect for offensive players now, I was getting a little gassed,” said McManis, smiling. “I was just trying to make a play for my team.”
Toronto’s other interception on Ford came in the fourth quarter when on a throw to the Argos’ 25 yard line defensive back Mason Pierce got his first CFL interception.
“I was just playing the hand, I was kind of out of phase,” said Pierce. “I was just lucky to come down with it.
“We’ve got a bunch of dogs on defence, there’s a lot of great leadership and they help the guys that have to step in and that’s what they did to me.”
Coach Ryan Dinwiddie of the Double Blue echoed the same sentiments post-game of his team’s effort.
“We’ve got some professionals that know how to work, and you can see it translate on the field,” said Dinwiddie. “We’ve got to go back to work, and we’ve got to continue to get better and play our best football towards the end.”
The Argos defence finished the game with five sacks, allowing one touchdown and 12 points.
The 150th birthday game was attended by 14,246 fans and many notable alumni including Ricky Ray, Condredge Holloway, and Damon Allen, the three leading passers in Argo history, as well as Derrell Mitchell, Paul Masotti, Michael Clemons, and Terry Greer, four of the top five leading receivers for the team.
With all the famous players and history watching, coach Dinwiddie made sure his team knew the importance of carving their own path.
“We always talk about legacy and how you want to be remembered, and I told our guys this is the 150th anniversary, look at all these star teams and star players and Hall Of Famers that are here for it,” said Dinwiddie. “We want to be one of those teams 20-30 years from now they talk about, our team, that Argos team.”
With their win Toronto moves to 13-2 and with three games left will have a chance to tie the franchise record of 15 wins in the regular season set by the 96’ and 97’ teams.
Quarterback Chad Kelly had a quiet night after sitting out last week’s game in Winnipeg, completing 11 of 16 passes, for 165 yards and no touchdowns. Backup Cameron Dukes scored twice on goal line runs.
With the loss the Elks are officially out of playoff contention, a result expected after falling 0-9 to start their season.
Tre Ford’s only touchdown of the game came with nine seconds left in the first half when he miraculously escaped heavy pressure and threw 16 yards to wide receiver Gavin Cobb on an eight play, 83 yard drive, which cut the score 18-11.
The former Waterloo Warrior finished his night with 220 passing yards, and 47 rushing yards.