McLeod Bethel-Thompson outduels Bo Levi Mitchell as Argos sink Stamps

McLeod Bethel-Thompson outdueled Bo Levi Mitchell as the Toronto Argonauts sank the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday by a score of 23-20.

Bethel-Thompson was starting in place of Nick Arbuckle, who is nursing a hamstring injury. He completed 26-of-37 pass attempts for 354 yards and two touchdowns while rushing four times for 24 yards.

The 33-year-old spread the ball around his receiving corps effectively, completing two or more passes to seven different receivers. He quietly led the CFL in passing yardage (4,024) and touchdowns (26) while splitting time with James Franklin on a Toronto team that finished 4-14 in 2019.

Mitchell played well but was unable to put together a drive to put his team in field goal position in the final minute of the game. He completed 23-of-35 pass attempts for 252 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, which came on Calgary’s final possession.

Saturday’s contest marked the first time in his nine-year CFL career that Mitchell lost to Toronto in a regular season game.

Calgary slotback Kamar Jorden didn’t show any signs of rust in his first real return to the field since he suffered a horrific knee injury in August 2018. The 32-year-old dressed for the 2019 West Semi-Final, though it was clear that he had yet to return to full health at that time.

The seventh-year receiver caught five passes for 85 and a touchdown against the Argos and was Mitchell’s favourite target on the day. Second-year receiver Josh Huff caught six passes for 53 yards but was forced to leave the game due to injury and did not return.

Offensive coordinator Pat DelMonaco’s game plan helped his young offensive line fend off a star-studded Toronto front-seven that included a pair of high-profile former NFL draft picks in Shane Ray and Kony Ealy. He was also sure not to abandon the run game — Ka’Deem Carey carried the ball 18 times for 75 yards, while Canadian backup Ante Milanovic-Litre added 25 yards on five attempts.

Carey had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter when he was tackled deep in his own territory by Shaquille Richardson and Charleston Hughes. The turnover led to a 27-yard touchdown pass from McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Kurleigh Gittens Jr., which tied the game at 20-20.

Canadian linebacker Charlie Moore and American cornerback DaShaun Amos made a pair of game-changing plays for the Stampeders on Saturday evening.

Moore blocked a punt late in the second quarter, which led to a Rene Paredes field goal following a two-and-out. Amos, meanwhile, chased down a streaking Ricky Collins Jr. early in the third quarter and forced a fumble to negate an 81-yard gain for Toronto.

Toronto Argonauts’ kicker Boris Bede had one of the most peculiar performances in the recent history of the CFL, connecting on a 54-yard field goal late in the second quarter before wildly shanking a 27-yard attempt on the final play before halftime.

The former Montreal Alouette finished two-of-four on the night, missing from 58 yards in the first half before nailing a 32-yard field goal to seal the victory.

The Toronto Argonauts (1-0) visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-0) on Friday, Aug. 13, while the Calgary Stampeders (0-1) host the B.C. Lions (0-1) on Thursday, Aug. 12.

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