It was about a half hour after the Argonauts’ 33-19 win over Montreal on Saturday night when the Canadian Football League stats department dropped a rather impressive note.
Argos running back James Wilder Jr. had recorded the most rushing yards over a two-game span in team history.
“That’s a great honour. The win was better,” Wilder said, without hesitation, when informed of the feat.
He did take a moment to smile about the personal accomplishment, but he had a point.
The win, with 12,862 looking on at BMO Field, sent the CFL East-rival Alouettes to their seventh straight loss and all but out of playoff contention at 3-10.
It also moved the Argos, now 6-7, past Ottawa into first place in the division, after the Redblacks lost in Winnipeg on Friday. The Boatmen saw an opportunity and took advantage, led by Wilder’s second consecutive outstanding performance — featuring an 85-yard touchdown ramble in the third quarter.
That was a game-changer after Montreal had made a brief comeback bid, with a TD off a Martese Jackson fumble on the Argos nine-yard line in the previous series.
Overall, Wilder rushed for 141 yards and finished with 218 combined. A week ago against Edmonton, he racked up 190 on the ground and 257 in total.
His 331-yard rushing total over two games shattered the team mark of 290, set by Cory Boyd in 2010. It’s well shy of the CFL record of 425 by Mike Pringle in 1994, but still quite a feat for Wilder, who spent much of this season on special teams. He’d shown potential as a running back, and got the chance a month ago when Argos coach Marc Trestman was looking to make a switch from incumbent Brandon Whitaker.
“We had to become a more fundamentally sound football team with our running and passing game,” Trestman said. “It had nothing to do with the way Brandon was playing. We just weren’t getting enough (out of the running back position). We just switched bodies, and it’s worked out for James.”
Wilder, a Florida State product, has avoided turnovers, a key for Trestman, who adds that there’s room for the running back to be creative within the parameters of the game plan.
It was also a big night for the Argo defence, with two interceptions by Mitchell White and another from Alden Darby that was returned for a touchdown.
Trestman and the players had prepared by reviewing video of Alouettes quarterback Darian Durant and the defence sacked him four times.