The Edmonton Eskimos may have finally found a quarterback who can fill Mike Reilly's shoes until he returns from injury.
Rookie quarterback James Franklin threw a touchdown and ran in another as the Eskimos beat the Toronto Argonauts 38-15 on Friday.
The win moved the Eskimos (6-3) back into a first place tie in the CFL's West Division with the Calgary Stampeders. Edmonton was coming off a 49-20 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week.
"It's a win," said Franklin, who was making his first career CFL start. "The guys were doing a great job catching the ball and Kendial (Lawrence) did a pretty good job sparking us with that punt return. I was very fortunate things were going well on all sides of the ball in my first start. It definitely helped me out. It made me feel a lot more comfortable out there."
Eskimos coach Chris Jones said Franklin did everything required of him.
"I thought he did a real nice job getting us in and out of the huddle, getting our plays called and executing," said Jones. "When he had to get out and run, he did that in a good manner and protected the football.
"He's a good quarterback."
Toronto saw a three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 6-3 on the season.
The Argos have come from behind in every victory this season, including four wins where they trailed heading into the fourth quarter.
"We started bad, but battled back into it like we have most of the season and got to within two points," said Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich. "We have to own this loss just like we own the wins. I thought we got out-coached, outplayed on offence, defence and special teams. That's generally not a good combination."
Reilly, Edmonton's regular No. 1 quarterback, has been out since Week 1 after suffering a knee injury against Toronto. Franklin, starting in place of Matt Nichols, engineered a 92-yard opening drive before capping it off by eluding a tackle and scrambling 18 yards into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
Franklin hit Derel Walker with a 53-yard pass, setting up a 23-yard Grant Shaw field goal on Edmonton's next drive.
Toronto got on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter, getting a single on a missed Swayze Waters field-goal attempt. The Eskimos responded with a punt single.
The Argos put together a late drive culminating in a one-yard TD plunge by backup quarterback Adrian McPherson to make it 11-8 at the half.
Edmonton started the third quarter with a 21-yard Shaw field goal.
Franklin completed a 62-yard pass to Walker midway through the third, resulting in another Shaw field goal and a 17-8 Eskimos lead.
Toronto closed the gap to two points late in the third quarter after a controversial pass interference call led to a one-yard touchdown pass from McPherson to Vidal Hazelton.
The Eskimos got a huge boost with just over 10 minutes to play when Lawrence exploded through coverage for a 65-yard punt return touchdown.
"That was certainly a turning point," said Milanovich. "We've been great on punt coverage all year. I'm not sure exactly what happened there."
Edmonton made it 31-15 with five minutes to play when Franklin found Walker for an eight-yard TD pass.
The Esks put the game away for good when Aaron Grymes picked off a Trevor Harris pass and took it back 54 yards, setting up a nine-yard quarterback keep by third-stringer Jordan Lynch.
Both teams are off until Labour Day on Sept. 7 when the Argos travel to Hamilton and the Eskimos head south to Calgary to face the Stampeders.