Baylis, Brigance take blame for poor outing

August 21, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

It could have been an omen last night when Baltimore CFLs mascot "Loudy" came to a screeching halt while galloping around the Memorial Stadium sidelines in celebration of the home team's tying touchdown early in the second quarter.

Seemingly spooked, Loudy tossed his rider, Erica Uram, over his back. Uram recovered from the spill and remounted.

But the CFLs never really got their act back together, delivering an uncharacteristic flat performance while losing to the Toronto Argonauts, 31-24.

But this was more than just an early-season setback in the estimation of veteran nose tackle Jearld Baylis.

"If you look at the circumstances, it was almost a four-point loss for us," said Baylis. "We not only lost to a division rival, but we also lost our starting quarterback [Tracy Ham] for at least one game, and that changes the whole complexion of things.

"No knock at [reserve quarterback] John Congemi; he did his best to get us back in the game in the second half. But Ham's our leader on offense.

"Plus, we had over 40,000 people pulling for us tonight. You don't want to disappoint them."

Baylis and end O. J. Brigance, considered the bulwarks of the defensive line, took the brunt of the blame for the team's lackluster effort.

"I'm ready to put it squarely on my shoulders," Baylis said. "I just wasn't ready to play right off the bat. I was sluggish. I didn't start playing football until the second half."

Brigance sounded a similar note.

"I don't know how to explain it, but I just didn't play at a high energy level. I need to push my intensity. I've got to be ready when the bell rings."

It was the game plan to apply as much pressure as possible on Toronto quarterback Reggie Slack, who replaced Mike Kerrigan as the starter this week.

But in critical second-down situations, Slack repeatedly broke free for first downs to keep the CFL defenders on their heels.

"The times Slack scrambled, he found the only escape route available," Baylis said. "He did a great job finding the seams."

The CFLs would not use their 10-day break between games as an excuse for this frustrating defeat against a team that had allowed 54 points to both Winnipeg and British Columbia in the past two weeks.

"It's strange," said Congemi, "but we had one of our best offensive efforts after having only three days to get ready for Hamilton last week. Then we come up so flat after being off 10 days. We just didn't come out ready to play."

The big crowd grew impatient with Congemi in the third quarter and vented its displeasure with a chorus of boos.

"I thought they were booing someone else," the former University of Pittsburgh star said with a straight face.

But he won the fans' approval in the fourth quarter when his second touchdown pass, a 32-yarder to Chris Armstrong, made it 30-24 with more than eight minutes remaining.

The rally fell short, however, when Joe Washington dropped a first-down pass near the Toronto 20-yard line, and Congemi's next pass was intercepted by linebacker Don Moen.

"I thought my receiver could break free inside, but Moen jammed him up and made a great play," Congemi said.

"It's hard to be in a situation where you're trying to come from behind with the clock running out. But I'm not disappointed in my performance (9-for-20, 184 yards). I'm only disappointed in the fact we lost a game we could have won."

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