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Late field goal battle gets Argonauts the win

Logan Kilgore gets first CFL start, but it's the kickers that steal the show.

Two weeks ago the Ottawa Redblacks walked into BMO Field and left with an exciting 30-20 win. It was now the Argonauts’ turn to come into hostile territory and spoil the party. Before the game there was a ceremony in honor of the 1976 Ottawa Rough Rider Grey Cup championship squad. This also coincided with the league’s announcement that Ottawa will host the Grey Cup game in 2017. Logan Kilgore was making his CFL debut after Ricky Ray went down with an injury against Montreal.

Neither team got points from their opening drives.

It was a rather uneventful first quarter, offense-wise, and the defenses were playing well. Neither team got any points until 3:18 remaining in the quarter when the Argonauts got a single off of a dead ball single for a 1-0 lead.

A drive they began at the end of the first quickly payed off for the Argos in the second quarter, Lirim Hajrullahu knocked in a 43-yard field goal for a 4-0 Argonauts lead.

Later on in the quarter, the Redblacks attempted a fake field goal play as the line shifted quickly before the snap. The ball came to short-yardage quarterback Danny O’Brien, who sent a ball towards the back of the end zone. The ball was headed towards Zack Evans but he just couldn’t come up with the grab as it slipped through his hands. Before he knew it, ball hawking Argos defender, A.J. Jefferson, had picked the ball up for an interception in bizarre fashion.       

The Redblacks finally got a solid drive going when they got into Argonaut territory late in the second. Brock Jensen came on and ran in the go ahead touchdown, after the convert the score was 7-4 and the game had that scoreline heading into the half.  

Coming out of the half, the Argonauts looked focused and stuffed the Redblacks on their first drive while getting all they could out of their drive. Logan Kilgore found Kenny Shaw on a nice 30-yard touchdown pass and after the convert by Hajrullahu the score was 11-7 to Toronto.

Ottawa replied right away on their next drive as Henry Burris showed great patience to wait for Ernest Jackson to get open, before dumping off a 13-yard pass for a touchdown to make it 13-11. After a Chris Milo convert the score was 14-11.

Just before the end of the third quarter the Argonauts got a 49-yard field goal from Hajrullahu to knot the game up at 14-14 going into the last quarter of play.

After forcing a fumble to begin the quarter, the Argonauts quickly scored some points as they got another good boot off of the foot of Hajrullahu, this time from 37-yards out to take a 17-14 lead.

This began an almost chess like sequence where the teams kept answering to field goals. On their next drive Chris Milo nailed a 50-yard kick to help Ottawa knot the score at 17-17, just to have the Argonauts respond on their next drive with a 25-yarder from Hajrullahu to go up 20-17.

Chris Milo responded again with a 55-yarder with under 2:30 to go in the fourth quarter in what had become a busy game for kickers with a 20-20 scoreline.

This still wasn’t the end of the kicking chess match as the Argonauts once again kicked for three from 53-yards out to go up 23-20.

Ottawa were unable to respond this time as Henry Burris was intercepted two plays later by A.J. Jefferson to seal a tight Argonauts victory in the Canadian capital.

With this win the Argonauts move into the top spot in the Eastern Division standings. Logan Kilgore impressed in his CFL debut, going 25/42, 322-yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and despite throwing those, he was able to pick up the victory. Also impressive was the play of Lirim Hajrullahu who went 5/5 on the day and helped seal the game late.

This Ottawa team that looked unstoppable not long ago have now hit their first real dose of adversity this season. Henry Burris’ veteran leadership will be called upon to help make sure this losing streak doesn’t extend further. Burris went 20/34 on the night with one touchdown and two interceptions. With the Danny O’Brien short yardage interception included, that makes it a dreadful three interception night for Ottawa quarterbacks. Once again, Ottawa only lost by a few points which is a positive to keep as this team have lost two games by a combined four points this year, which shows they hang around to at least give themselves a fighting chance.

Ottawa welcome Edmonton for a game on August 6 at 7:00pm EST. The Argonauts head into their bye week atop the Eastern standings.

Riccardo Di Stefano

RealSport's Lead CFL writer and also a contributor of NHL content. Riccardo currently pursues many media interests as a freelance Master Control Operator for Bell Media in Canada while also running his own, now affiliated stream on Twitch at Twitch.tv/RicD55.

Late field goal battle gets Argonauts the win

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