It was a clean sheet for the Edmonton Eskimos defence.
Shaquille Cooper had 128 yards rushing and a touchdown as the Eskimos recorded a rare shutout with a 26-0 victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday.
The Eskimos improved to 4-2, while the Argos remain winless at 0-6.
“It was a complete team effort, a complete organizational effort,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “To go out and have a performance like that, especially after a loss, and get a shutout in your home stadium, something that hasn’t been done for a few years, that’s a big statement. I’m very proud of the guys.”
The last time Edmonton recorded a shutout was on Sept. 26, 2014 when they defeated Saskatchewan 24-0 when current Toronto head coach Corey Chamblin was the head coach of the Roughriders.
“Our defence, to borrow a hockey term, they stood on their heads tonight. So some big-time stuff out of them,” said Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris.
“We get a few small things that take a touchdown away from us every week, so we’ve got to make sure that we capitalize on those because obviously a shutout is a very rare deal and we’ve got to be able to help our defence out and stretch the lead and get some more points on the board.”
Chamblin has now lost 15 straight games as a CFL head coach dating back to when he was the head coach of the Riders in 2015.
The Argos have lost 13 games in a row on the road, including all nine last season.
“This is a period of time where it’s just not challenging as a coach, as a player, but as a man,” Chamblin said. “Obviously we know we have to get better in some areas. We need to get better in all areas in overall improvement that’s part of the game, but there are areas that need more work than others. How we fix that? I don’t know if that’s going to happen over night.”
It was a rough start for Edmonton as Harris was intercepted on the Toronto one-yard-line by Justin Herdman-Reed on the Eskimos’ opening drive. That pick was overturned on a pass interference call, only to then see replacement running back Cooper fumble the ball away once again on the next play.
The Eskimos got the ball right back when Monshadrik Hunter intercepted Argos QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, eventually leading to a one-yard QB keeper by Harris. Edmonton failed to score a touchdown in either of its two losses on the season coming into the game.
The Esks added 21-yard and 47-yard Sean Whyte field goals before the teams traded fumbles late in the second quarter for a 13-0 Edmonton lead at the half.
Edmonton fuelled its lead with four minutes to play in the third quarter when Copper went into the end zone on a four-yard run.
Whyte kicked a 37-yard field goal midway through the fourth to make it 23-0.
Josh Johnson intercepted a long pass from Toronto backup QB Dakota Prukop with six minutes left in the final frame, the Argo’s fifth turnover of the game.
Whyte kicked his fourth field goal on the night from 39 yards out to close out the scoring.
The Argos return home to host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Thursday, while the Eskimos will hit the road to face the Calgary Stampeders next Saturday.
Notes: It had been 34 days since the last Eskimos home game… Neither team had their usual starting running back in the lineup, as the Argos were without James Wilder Jr. and the Esks didn’t have the services of C.J Gable.