The CFL 2022 season kicked off in Ottawa on Friday Night. The exhibition game itself saw the REDBLACKS top the Argos 23-17. But the real victory came on Thursday night when the Players Association voted to ratify a new CBA.
The return of preseason games in the CFL for the first time in three years was also a victory for the players who were looking to make a strong enough impression to survive the first wave of roster cuts coming this weekend.
On Friday, the Toronto Argonauts sat most of their starters on offence and defense. The Boatmen rested 18 projected opening day starters. The coaching staff got a good look at many newcomers and the team’s younger players in their 23-17 loss to Ottawa. The current roster has over 100 players, and the upcoming cutdowns will bring the Argonauts to 75 players plus non-counters. Those decisions could come as early as tomorrow.
CFL Preseason Opener: Ottawa REDBLACKS-Toronto Argonauts Recap
In a clear sign that the CFL is officially back. The first score of this game was a rouge on a Jose Maltos punt, and the score after one-quarter of play would be Ottawa 1 Toronto 0.
Playing into the second quarter, old Argos’ nemesis and new Ottawa QB Jeremiah Masoli would leave the Redbacks to a scoring drive. Masoli would hook up with his old Ti-Cats running mate Jaelon Acklin from eight yards out for the game’s first major. Lewis Ward would miss the extra point.
The Argos offence moved the ball but stalled throughout most of the first half, with Antonio Pipkin starting, and then the highly acclaimed Chad Kelly making his CFL debut. Kelly was able to show some nice plays with his arms and legs and lead the Boatmen to their first score of the evening, a 19-yard field goal by Toshiki Sato. Toronto’s scoring drive before the end of the half was spurred on by a Tarvarus McFadden interception of Caleb Evans.
The second half saw a scoreless third quarter as both team’s defenses held strung. But there was plenty of action in the final frame.
Chad Kelly, who rotated in and out all game with Austin Simmons, would help lead a scoring drive to start the fourth quarter. Thanks mainly due to the performance of another CFL rookie, RB Javon Leake. Arguably, Toronto’s best player on the field on Friday night. After already helping the Argos get into scoring territory with a 22-yard run. Leake would score from four yards out to give Toronto its first lead of the night.
Up 10-7, The Argos would see the end zone again. This time, courtesy of the defense. As defensive back, Jamal Peters, who surprisingly played deep into the second half, picked off a Tyrie Adams pass in the flat and returned it 59 yards to give Toronto a 17-7 lead.
It may just be an exhibition game. But Peters play could be a sign of things to come in the regular season. The interception may not have transpired if not for the league’s new hash mark rules.
Redblacks QB Tyrie Adams would rebound from his faux pas later in the fourth. He would lead Ottawa to a scoring drive, hitting R.J. Harris for an 11-yard major to cut the Boatmen’s lead to 17-14.
Then in a strange sequence late in the game. Ryan Dinwiddie decided to concede a safety with his offence backed up at its own end when rookie Global punter John Haggerty ran out of the back of his end zone. A decision that very likely would not have taken place in a regular-season game.
Trailing only by one at 17-16 with under two minutes left in the game. Ottawa took advantage. They drove the short field in the final minute and scored the go-ahead touchdown to take a 23-17 lead with twenty seconds left.
Thanks to a roughing penalty on the ensuing kickoff. Austin Simmons was able to get the ball to midfield for one last hail mary attempt that was intercepted in the end zone.
Next Friday, the Argos and REDBLACKS are back in action to wrap up their preseason. Ottawa will be in Montreal, and the Argos will play Hamilton at the University of Guelph. The REDBLACKS and Boatmen won’t meet again until Week 8 of the Regular Season at BMO Field.
Top Argos Performers on Friday
Chad Kelly: 7/12 78 yards passing, 19 yards rushing
Javon Leake: 6 carries, 33 yards, 1 touchdown, one reception, 4 yards, 2 kick returns 34 yards
A.J. Richardson: 2 receptions, 42 yards
Isaiah Wright: 4 receptions, 37 yards, 2 punt returns 16 yards
Jamal Peters: 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception for a touchdown
Tarvarus McFaddden: 3 tackles, 1 int
John Haggerty: 9 punts, 53.2 yard average, Long 64
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