24-point comeback win could be season-changing for Argos

Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star

It was as if the Argos played two games at BMO Field Thursday night.

The first: a troubled first half riddled with turnovers and ineffectiveness.

The second? Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, making his first start of the season, led an improbable, almost impossible comeback, capping it with his fourth touchdown pass of the second half — a 23-yarder to Armanti Edwards — with one second remaining in the game.

And the Argos, who trailed 28-7 at the half, came all the way back for a 42-41 win over the Ottawa Redblacks.

Talk about a massive swing: Bethel-Thompson couldn’t get much going in the first half, completing seven of 12 passes for 69 yards. Then he went 18-of-25 for 233 yards and the four scores.

“It was a lot of fun,” Bethel-Thompson said in a jubilant Argos dressing room. “I want to thank my teammates, they carried me along all night. It takes 12 players (on offence) and I’m only one-twelfth of it. And sometimes, I was doing half of my one-twelfth.”

Bethel-Thompson also connected with S.J. Green for touchdown passes of five and 11 yards, and with James Wilder Jr. from 20 yards out.

“He found a way to make plays,” Argos head coach Marc Trestman said. “We won’t anoint ourselves with this win, but we gave ourselves an opportunity to find out more about ourselves. I’m very proud of the players and the coaches, they ground it out and found a way to win.”

Toronto, now 2-5, erased a first half in which the Argos committed four turnovers, a carry-over from their last game against Winnipeg, when they coughed up the ball seven times.

The Argos needed this win, they had talked about it as a must-win game, even if it was the first week of August. It was a game in front of a home crowd (11,857) and a chance to wipe off some of the sludge from what had been a slow start to the season.

It doesn’t seem so heavy now as the Argos enter a bye week.

This was also Toronto’s first game against an East opponent this season. When their schedule resumes in two weeks, they play British Columbia, then three straight games against East opponents.

Bethel-Thompson, who turns 30 Friday, took over the quarterbacking duties after James Franklin went 1-3 as a starter. The new No. 1 appeared to be just another part of the Argos’ hot-and-cold offence early. They held the ball for just 12 minutes in the first half and the longest of Bethel-Thompson’s completions was for 16 yards. The Toronto offence logged two fumbles, one interception, a turnover on downs, and four punts in the opening 30 minutes.

Bethel-Thompson was markedly better in the second half, as was the Argos offence.

“I stopped shooting myself in the foot … they were self inflicted wounds,” Bethel-Thompson said.

“I definitely didn’t play my best in the first half. But there was no give-up (in the halftime dressing room), no one even blinked, the players or the coaches. We have a fantastic group here.”

Martese Jackson had punt returns of 48 and 70 yards for the Argos, but he also fumbled on the Toronto five-yard line in the first half. The ball bounced into the end zone, where Ottawa’s Anthony Cioffi recovered it for a touchdown.

It was just one many early errors. A pass interference penalty on Toronto’s Adbul Kenneh gave Ottawa a first-and-goal from the one-yard line. Backup quarterback Dominque Davis took a plunge for the touchdown.

And a Wilder fumble led to a 17-yard touchdown pass from Redblacks quarterback Trevor Harris to Diontae Spencer. Wilder finished with 59 yards on 14 carries and 42 yards on four catches.

Harris, a former Argo, had 27 completions on 35 attempts for an impressive 381 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And Spencer had a tremendous game, hauling in eight passes for 145 yards. He also had what seemed like a dagger for the Argos — an 88 yard punt return for a touchdown with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter that gave Ottawa a 38-14 lead at the time.

Toronto, though, was just getting started.

The Redblacks helped them, taking 12 penalties to the Argos’ five and backing off defensively with such a large lead. And the crowd played a role too.

“The fans helped us out,” Argos linebacker Marcus Ball said. “The guys on the other team weren’t getting their plays called, and we could see that. The fans really helped us out a lot.”

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33 Comments on 24-point comeback win could be season-changing for Argos

  1. Doug Mc Clintock // August 5, 2018 at 1:34 pm //

    That game was a great classic scoring 35 points in the second half to Ottawa’s 13.What is the best comeback in CFL history ? This one must rate near the top !

    • It was the second biggest comeback in Argo history. Biggest being in 1994.
      Amazing game!!!

  2. “24-point comeback win could be season-changing for Argos”

    And sadly, most of the Argo “faithful” that did attend, had already left the building.

    This game was a classic example, that anything can happen in the CFL.

    • Real Argo faithful stayed till the end. The players really appreciate their fan’s support through thick or thin.

    • Kudos to those that stayed tho.. There were a few decked out waving the big Argos flag. Be a shame if this team folded.

      • It will be many years before the Argos would fold. MLSE has money and knew what they were getting into when buying the franchise.

        • True MLSE has deep pockets and can have staying power. However in the end it’s about making money for stakeholders. If you attendance doesn’t improve slowly as the season progresses and next year they won’t have a choice but to unload it or move it to Atlantic Canada.

          • MLSE announced this is a long term plan and will not unload this team in the near future. This year/next season is way too soon. From what I understood when listening to the Argo president, 7 to 10 years seems far more likely. In the scheme of MLSE, Argo losses would be tiny. The team isn’t going anywhere.

          • How much money is TFC making for the shareholders? Outstanding support for this team translated into a loss of approximately $9 million US in 2015. Probably substantially more now after increasing their payroll so much. TV numbers are pathetic and TFC has a small niche in the Toronto market, just like the Argos. I just love watching the double standard when it comes to coverage of these two teams.

          • Lou you are totally out to lunch. The argos arent going anywhere

    • Yip it was a great comeback. Why do you care about the attendsnce? It is the football that matters

  3. Bombsquad // August 5, 2018 at 2:46 pm //

    It definitely was one heck of a comeback by the Argos, a tale of two half’s. it was a monumental collapse by Ottawa and one that might be hard to erase from the memory banks, we’ll see. It’ll be interesting to see if Bethel-Thompson can keep up his good play from the 2nd half or if it was a one off, time will tell.

  4. The next game against BC will be an interesting one. Bethel-Thompson deserves another start. How much support will he get from Wilder and his O-line? Will the pass defense hold off Travis Lulay? Who will be in the backfield for BC? Missed field goals cost the Argos a game earlier in the season, unfortunately. Do the Argos now have a reliable field goal kicker? Tune in after the bye week!

  5. Nathaiel // August 5, 2018 at 2:53 pm //

    In other news!

    oday from the Riders should be fired immediately for unacceptable insubordination for what can be percieved as a undermining of Head Coach/GM Chris Jones via his CKRM 620 radio interview explaining roster card gaffe while he was on scouting business in Buffalo NY.

  6. Riders#20 // August 5, 2018 at 3:06 pm //

    Nathaiel – if you look up the word “tool” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of you. Obviously you did not listen to the roster gaffe explanation. STOP. LOOK. LISTEN!

  7. True and Blue till the end

  8. Similar to what happened to the TiCats last Labour Day. Lousy first half for them. Thunderstorm delay. Then they came back and won in second half. And won more games after that. I think the east will be close by November. Even Montreal when JM picks up the offence.

  9. Great win for the Argos, and an entertaining one for the CFL.
    Not so hot for us Ottawa fans. But I’d rather lose that way than how Montréal did it the next night.

  10. I cont recall a comeback in the 4th quarter quite like this one since One’s days as coach of the Double Blue. Kudos to their heart. They need to eliminate turnovers (most have been due to trying too hard) and tweak the DB position (loss of Spears and Ford hurting us bad) and we should be OK till Ricky comes back late in the season.

  11. Evil Empire // August 6, 2018 at 4:21 am //

    The loss could be season changing for Ott. That was unacceptable on so many levels. They settle for FGA way too often. And, a FGA attempt where the ball is scrimmaged at the 10 yd line, or closer is quite simply a fail, imo. Ott had 2 more of those again in this game.

    Cgy had a 24 point lead on SK. Cgy didn’t lose. Ham had a 28 point lead on Mtl. And, they didn’t lose either. You couldn’t pay me to have a DC as the HC. Just in general, and imo, they are either too conservative. Or, sometimes they take wreckless chances by gambling, or trying trick plays. Campbell is simply too conservative for my liking. He’s a good coach, but I wouldn’t want him. I just don’t see any passion, or fire from the guy.

    Luckily, Ottawa plays in the East. And it takes a really bad team to miss the playoffs in the East. With two guaranteed playoff spots. And, an automatic 1/2 game advantage over any West team trying to crossover. So, I’m sure Ott will be fine. But, they need to get TDs from inside the 10, not FGs. And, scoring TDs instead of FGs outside the 10, wouldn’t hurt either.

    Attendance is down alot in Ottawa. Luckily they have a home game against Mtl this week. They should win easily. But, it’s hard to expect this team will do any damage in the playoffs. They are too passive, imo.

    I have the feeling this is the year we get an all West Grey Cup. And, that just wouldn’t be good for the league. They need to get Halifax up and running. The sooner the better.

  12. Most inspiring. Go Argos, Go CFL!

  13. Most inspiring. Go Argos, Go CFL!

  14. Way to go Argos! You’re still not a very good football team! And neither are the teams in the East again!

  15. And I didnt think it could get any better. My last 3 attended ARGO games.
    East Semi Final–last minute win at BMO
    Grey Cup –last minute win at TD Stadium -OTTAWA
    and now this last second win at BMO.
    THIS CITY DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MISSING!

    • “THIS CITY DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MISSING!”.
      Right you are!!! Unfortunately Toronto needs US attention or their not interested. Toronto needs a pat on the head from Uncle Sam. What a sad city.

      • Hey gmen nothing wrong with this city. Just a bunch of jealous toronto haters like you on this site. Get a life. Btw this city is really hurting right now after the danforth ibcident and early van incident in april. Show some respect. And try and talk football

        • This has nothing to do with the danforth/van incidents. It wasn’t my intention to link every day life and sports together. I apologize if that’s how it came across.
          I stand by my words when it comes to sports in Toronto.
          I am talking football. The idea that something Canadian isn’t good enough for the city.

          • GMEN32–No need to apologize. It did not come across the way Ben took it at all. All the Toronto and CFL FANS KNOW WHAT YOU MEANT..FOOTBALL ONLY TALK. It is true this City still believes NFL is coming. To me doesnt matter I like to be able to get to the beer line with no hassle sit in comfortable seats and no washroom lineups $5 beer at SHIPYARD pre game party—this is our great secret!The true 10,000 to 12,000 Argo fans are a treat to be with and with MLSE at the helm this team is not going anywhere.

  16. Jose Conseco // August 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm //

    7 more games vs East opponents, 2 against the Lions. I know the Lions are better but we have a chance. I say Argos finish second behind Hamilton and Ottawa misses out.

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