EDMONTON — There are no signs of Gray Cup hangover yet for the Toronto Argonauts.
AJ Ouellet scored three touchdowns to help the defending champion Argonauts remain undefeated on the season with a 43-31 victory over the Edmonton Elks on Sunday.
“He does everything right, does all his workouts and is in the weight room every day,” said Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie of Ouellette. “He is a great football player and I am fortunate to have coached him.
“It’s hard to get him and Andrew (Harris) enough of the touches they deserve. But I know if we give Andrew enough touches he’ll do the same thing every week.”
Ouellet had only two touchdowns in 13 games for the Argos the previous season.
He said of the three TD performance, “I felt really good.” “He made it easy for me. It felt like all of the touchdowns were largely untouched, which is a cheer for the O-line.
Quarterback Chad Kelly completed 13 of 23 passes for 264 yards in his second game as the designated starter for Toronto.
“I’m feeling good, but I have to be even better,” Kelly said.
“We keep getting better. We should have hung a few more points on the board and we shot ourselves in the foot a few times. It’s just the beginning of the season. We got the victory. We just have to keep learning and get better with each snap.”
The Argos improved to 2–0, while the Elks are off to a bad start at 0–3.
Elks head coach Chris Jones said, “I would have lost my house betting that our record wouldn’t be where it is now, but it is what it is.”
The home hex continues for the Elks, who have lost a CFL-record 19 consecutive home games, a series of futility that extends through October 12, 2019.
Edmonton started the scoring midway through the opening quarter on their second possession, coming off their first shutout in 47 years last week in relief when they lost 22-0 to the BC Lions. A 42-yard punt return by CJ Sims started a drive that was completed when Kevin Brown reeled in a Taylor Cornelius pass and entered the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
The Argonauts responded with a major of their own on the next drive, engineered by Kelly, and received a three-yard rushing major from Ouellette.
The Elks went ahead early in the second frame as Lucchese Purifoy stepped in front of a Kelly pass and ran it back 27 yards for a pick-six TD.
Toronto struck back with a 42-yard field goal from Boris Bede and added a punt single to close to 14–11.
The Argos went ahead with just over a minute to play in the first half as Kelly pulled off a sure sack and then found the wide-open David Ungerer for a 44-yard touchdown toss.
Edmonton’s Dean Faithfull kicked an 18-yard field goal to end the second quarter with Toronto up 18–17.
The Argonauts were able to increase their lead on a long drive to start the second half, capped off by a two-yard TD run by Ouellette.
Ungerer also took a big lead on special teams with a blocked punt that eventually led to a four-yard TD run by Ouellette.
The Elks attempted a quarterback change, but on the first play, Kai Locksley fumbled on his own 24, allowing Argo Robertson Daniel to recover. Bede kicked a 16-yard field goal to increase Toronto’s lead to 36–17.
Edmonton’s bad luck continued as Eugene Lewis was stripped of the ball one step back from the end zone and Daniels of the Argos was once again credited with the turnover.
Toronto’s defense continued to shine, as Elks’ third-line QB Jarrett Doege was picked off by Royce Mechi and returned 15 yards to the end zone.
The Elks finally got back on the board with less than three minutes to play in the fourth game, as a 72-yard return by Sims led to a two-yard pass from Doej to Vincent Forbes-Momblue and a two-point convert by Doej Went.
Edmonton was able to add another highlight reel play to the proceedings with six seconds remaining as Doege escaped the pressure and ran through an optimistic pass upfield that bounced off the hands of a defender to Forbes-Mombleau for an 84-yard touchdown play .
Doege said, “They called my number and I tried to make the most of my opportunity.” “I went in there and left everything out there, just trying to do what I could to help the team build some momentum.”
Cornerback Ed Goins, receiver Manny Arceneaux, offensive lineman Cole Nelson and quarterback Trey Ford were all out with injuries for Edmonton. … Among those missing from the Toronto lineup were defensive lineman Shawn Oakman, linebacker Henok Mumba, wide receiver Markeith Embles, receiver Kurle Gittens Jr., offensive lineman Darius Bledek and offensive lineman Shane Richards.
salute to better times
The Elks celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1993 Gray Cup winning team with several players from that team in attendance, including Damon Allen, Willie Place and Henry (Gizmo) Williams.
Edmonton will play the Redblacks (0-2) in Ottawa on Friday in a battle of the winners, while the Argonauts host the BC Lions (3-0) next Monday in a battle of the unbeaten teams.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 25, 2023.