East coast thriller: Alouettes survive late Argos drive; Vernon Adams Jr. leads comeback

It was a perfect day for football in New Brunswick.

The 2019 edition of Touchdown Atlantic was played at Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium in front of a sellout crowd (10,125). As the league tries to inch closer and closer to the proposed 10th team in the Atlantic Schooners.

And those fans were treated to a thriller.

The Argonauts got the ball to three-yard line, down six with 0.3 seconds to go. But Armanti Edwards couldn’t hang onto the pass and Montreal escaped Moncton with a 28-22 win.

The game’s postage stamp was on a trick play in the third quarter for the Alouettes. Vernon Adams Jr. ended up finding Quan Bray in the end zone for a 35-yard play of the year contender. At the time it gave Montreal a 20-16 lead.

But McLeod Bethel-Thompson struck back, as he connected with Derel Walker on a more routine deep play this one for 38 yards. However, the lead was short lived.

Montreal followed it up with a 13-play drive of their own, extended by a roughing the kicker flag, culminating in a Jeremiah Johnson 25-yard run. A  two-point convert put the Als up by six.

The Alouettes had stayed away from risky big-yardage play attempts this year, save for when they’re trailing with little time left in a game, but that wasn’t the case here. They solved their red zone woes by essentially avoiding it all-together, by way of two big time Bray catches and another by DeVier Posey. The ladder set up an Adams touchdown plunge just before halftime, which cut their deficit at the time to 16-6.

Adams finished 19-of-25 for 335 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a rushing touchdown.

Their defence stepped up towards the end of the game. Aside from the Greg Reid Jr. stuff as the clock struck zero, a sack and a would-be Ryan Carter interception were prominent on the drive just before.

The league overturned the pick ruling a roughing the passer call on Chad Geter. Corey Chamblin lost his challenge earlier so it was up to the command centre to step in. The head coach opted to go for a fresh set of downs on third and nine with 1:40 to go but Bethel-Thompson’s pass fell to the ground and the Als took over on their 24. Toronto’s defence got the two-and-out they needed and MBT marched out with 55 ticks left on the clock, taking it from their own 10 and getting it to the Als three, but not any further.

Bethel-Thompson did all he could, tossing for 464 yards on 36-of-47 throwing and two touchdowns.

The offence was slow going as the first touchdown didn’t come until the second quarter, on a Jimmy Ralph score on a gutsy third and goal call by Chamblin. Most of Toronto’s offence up to that point was by way of Rodney Smith, as the receiver had nine receptions and almost 100 yards receiving at the break. He ended up with 12 catches for 136 yards, the biggest of which set up the final play of the game.

The Atlantic air appeared to breathe new life in this Toronto defence before reality struck, as they surrendered just 135 offensive yards before things opened up in the second half. They gave up 412 yards at the end of this one while their offence posted 569 in the losing effort.

Montreal has a bye next week while Toronto faces Hamilton in the Labour Day Monday matinee.

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