The 2022 CFL season kicked off in Ottawa Friday night. The exhibition game itself saw the REDBLACKS edge the Argos 23-17. But the real victory came Thursday night when the Players Association voted to ratify a new CBA.
The return of preseason games to the CFL for the first time in three years was also a victory for players looking to make an impression strong enough to survive the first wave of roster cuts coming this weekend.
On Friday, the Toronto Argonauts dropped most of their starters on offense and defense. The boatmen rested 18 starters scheduled for the opening day. The coaching staff got a good look at the team’s many newcomers and young players in their 23-17 loss to Ottawa. The current roster is over 100 players, and future reductions will bring the Argonauts down to 75 players plus non-counters. These decisions could be made tomorrow.
CFL Preseason Game 1: Ottawa REDBLACKS vs. Toronto Argonauts Recap
A clear sign that the CFL is officially back. The first score in this game was a red on a Jose Maltos punt, and the score after one quarter of play would be Ottawa 1 Toronto 0.
Heading into the second quarter, former Argos nemesis and new Ottawa quarterback Jeremiah Masoli would leave the Redbacks on a scoring record. Masoli would reconnect with his former Ti-Cats running mate Jaelon Acklin at eight yards for the game’s first major. Lewis Ward would miss the extra point.
The Argos offense moved the ball but stalled for 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 great play with her arms and legs and lead the Boatmen to their first score of the night, a 19-yard field goal from Toshiki Sato. Toronto’s goal drive before the end of the half was boosted by an interception of Caleb Evans by Tarvarus McFadden.
The second half saw a scoreless third quarter as both teams’ defenses remained strained. But there was plenty of action in the final frame.
Chad Kelly, who alternated the entire game with Austin Simmons, would help lead a scoring campaign to start the fourth quarter. Thank you mainly because of the performance of another CFL rookie, RB Javon Leake. Arguably Toronto’s best player on the court Friday night. Having already helped the Argos into scoring territory with a 22-yard run. Leake scored from four yards out to give Toronto their first lead of the night.
Leading 10-7, the Argos would see the end zone again. This time, thanks to the defense. As defensive back Jamal Peters, who played surprisingly deep in the second half, caught a pass from Tyrie Adams in the flat and returned it 59 yards to give Toronto a 17-7 lead.
Maybe it’s just an exhibition game. But Peters’ play could be a sign of things to come in the regular season. The interception might not have happened without the league’s new hash mark rules.
Redblacks QB Tyrie Adams would rebound from his misstep later in the fourth. He led Ottawa on a scoring drive, hitting RJ Harris for an 11-yard major to cut the Boatmen’s lead to 17-14.
Then in a weird late game sequence. Ryan Dinwiddie decided to concede a safety with his offense saved at his own end when Global rookie punter John Haggerty ran out from behind his end zone. A decision that most likely would not have happened in a regular season game.
Trailing only by one at 17-16 with less than two minutes left in the game. Ottawa took advantage of this. They drove the short field in the final minute and scored the touchdown to take a 23-17 lead with twenty seconds remaining.
Thanks to a rough penalty on the ensuing kick-off. Austin Simmons managed to get the ball through midfield for a final hail attempt which was intercepted in the end zone.
Next Friday, the Argos and the ROUGE NOIR are back in action to conclude their pre-season. Ottawa will be in Montreal and the Argos will face Hamilton at the University of Guelph. The REDBLACKS and the Boatmen won’t meet until Week 8 of the regular season at BMO Field.
Friday’s Best Argos Artists
Chad Kelly: 7/12 78 passing yards, 19 rushing yards
Javon Leake: 6 carries, 33 yards, 1 touchdown, one reception, 4 yards, 2 kick returns 34 yards
AJ 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 inter
John Haggerty: 9 punts, average 53.2 yards, Long 64