One of the CFL’s lesser known rules helped do in the Argonauts on Saturday afternoon. No, it wasn’t something as trivial as forgetting to sign your scorecard after a round of golf, but it wasn’t far off. With the clock ticking under 30 seconds and Toronto lining up for a 47 yard, go-ahead field goal, they committed the cardinal sin of not getting the snap off in time. The result: they were backed up to their own 53 — a ten yard infraction.
Toronto kicker Justin Medlock’s monstrous kick had the distance, but hit the left upright, and as quickly as the ball fell to the ground, the Argos plummeted back into a tie with the Blue Bombers for last (2-3) in the suddenly competitive CFL East with the 13-12 loss.
I ran into CFL Director of Officiating Tom Higgins in the elevator en route to the locker room, and he explained to we, the perplexed reporters, that in the last three minutes of a half on third down the penalty for a time count violation doubles from five to ten yards. An old rule, he explained.
Medlock wasn’t sure whose responsibility it was to make sure his team beat the play clock.
“I don’t even know what happened, to tell you the truth. I just kick, kick when it’s down, make it. Unfortunately I missed, but that’s all you’ve got to do,” said the rookie kicker. The miss was the first of his CFL career after 11 straight successful tries. The streak tied him for the fifth longest in Argonaut history.
After the ball was snapped late, Medlock made the voided field goal, and confessed that he didn’t know why the whistles were blown.
“I thought it was a timeout,” he said. “I didn’t know we were backing up, to tell you the truth […] That probably would have been the only thing I wish I was paying attention to.”
After the game, head coach Bart Andrus explained he had full confidence in his kicker (“He makes those all the time,” he said), and never contemplated kicking it through the end zone for a single.
It’s funny that the fact Argonauts turned the ball over seven times is swept under the rug, but even despite the loss, Andrus found positives. He pointed to the fact that the game was in their grasp in the last minute and Cory Rodgers and Chad Lucas, who both made their Argo debut (and in Lucas’ case, his CFL debut) caught ten passes totaling 118 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Kerry Joseph echoed his coach’s sentiments about the receiving corps, which even the most hardcore fans might need a program to recognize.
“We communicated well,” he said. “The more reps we get with each other, I think the better we’re going to be.”
The Argos’ receivers may be best served to keep their eyes on the field next week in Montreal (4-1), when they’ll witness Anthony Calvillo and his group of veteran targets up close. Until then, it’s a work in progress that Toronto hopes will be like fine wine and get better with time.