Ouellette scores three TDs as Argonauts pound Elks
EDMONTON — There are no signs of a Grey Cup hangover yet for the Toronto Argonauts.
A.J. Ouellette scored three touchdowns as the defending champion Argonauts remained undefeated on the season with a 43-31 victory over the Edmonton Elks on Sunday.
“He does everything right, does all his assignments 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 lucky to coach him.
"It is tough to get him and Andrew (Harris) enough touches that they deserve. But I know if we give Andrew enough touches he will have those performances every week.”
Ouellette only had two touchdowns in 13 games for the Argos last season.
“I felt really good,” he said of the three TD performance. “They made it easy on me. It felt like all the touchdowns were pretty much untouched, which is a shout-out to 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 feel good, but I have to be a lot better,” Kelly said. “I have to be more mentally locked in. Today I felt I was off and on. I have to be more consistent throughout the game.
“We are consistently getting better. We should have hung a few more points on the board and we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. It is still early in the season. We got the win. We just have to keep on learning and getting better each and every snap.”
The Argos improved to 2-0, while the Elks are off to a rough start at 0-3.
“I would have lost my house betting that our record wouldn't be where it's at right now, but it is what it is,” said Elks head coach Chris Jones.
The home hex continues for the Elks, who have lost a CFL-record 19 consecutive home games, a string of futility stretching back to Oct. 12, 2019.
Edmonton started the scoring on its second possession midway through the opening quarter, a relief after being shutout for the first time in 47 years last week when they fell 22-0 to the B.C. Lions. A 42-yard punt return by C.J. Sims launched a drive that would be completed when Kevin Brown reeled in a Taylor Cornelius pass and dove into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
The Argonauts responded with a major of their own on the next drive engineered by Kelly, getting a three-yard rushing major from Ouellette.
The Elks surged back ahead early in the second frame as Loucheiz Purifoy stepped in front of a Kelly pass and ran it back 27 yards for the pick-six TD.
Toronto came back with a 42-yard field goal by Boris Bede and added a punt single to close to 14-11.
The Argos surged ahead with just over a minute to play in the first half as Kelly shrugged off a sure sack and then found a wide-open David Ungerer for a 44-yard touchdown toss.
Edmonton’s Dean Faithfull kicked an 18-yard field goal to close out the second quarter with Toronto up 18-17.
The Argonauts were able to extend their lead on a long drive to open the second half, capped off by a two-yard TD run by Ouellette.
Ungerer also came up big on special teams with a blocked punt, eventually leading 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, with Argo Robertson Daniel recovering. Bede nailed a 16-yard field goal to extend the Toronto lead to 36-17.
Edmonton’s bad luck continued as Eugene Lewis was stripped of the ball a step shy of the end zone with the Argos’ Daniel once again getting credit for the turnover.
Toronto’s defence continued to shine, as Elks third-string QB Jarret Doege was picked off by Royce Metchie and returned 15 yards into the end zone.
The Elks finally got back on the board with less than three minutes to play in the fourth as a 72-yard return by Sims led to a two-yard pass from Doege to Vincent Forbes-Mombleau and a two-point convert by Doege.
Edmonton was able to add another highlight reel play to the proceedings with six seconds left as Doege escaped pressure and through a hopeful pass upfield that bounced out of the hands of a defender to Forbes-Mombleau for an 84-yard touchdown play.
“They called my number and I just tried to make the most of my opportunity,” Doege said. “I went in there and just kind of left it all out there just trying to do what I can to help the team try to build some momentum.”
Out with injuries for Edmonton were cornerback Ed Gaines, receiver Manny Arceneaux, offensive lineman Cole Nelson and quarterback Tre Ford. … Among those missing from the Toronto lineup were defensive lineman Shawn Oakman, linebacker Henoc Muamba, wide receiver Markeith Ambles, receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr., offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek and offensive lineman Shane Richards.
SALUTING BETTER TIMES
The Elks recognized the 30th anniversary of their 1993 Grey Cup winning team with several players from that squad in attendance, including Damon Allen, Willie Pless and Henry (Gizmo) Williams.
Edmonton will play the Redblacks (0-2) in Ottawa on Friday in a battle of winless teams, while the Argonauts host the B.C. Lions (3-0) next Monday in a showdown of unbeaten teams.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2023.