The Toronto Argonauts held on to defeat the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night by a score of 30-27. The crowd at BMO Field was a paltry 7,758 but it was still a great night for the Boatmen, improving their record to 4-3 to keep pace with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Montreal put together an impressive 560 yards of offence, though that number was aided by a few big plays late in the game. It was far from a perfect outing from Toronto’s defence, but there’s no arguing with a win — especially one with this many playoff implications.
Here are four reasons why the Argos were able to get the win on Friday and move four points ahead of the Alouettes in the East Division standings.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson was sensational in the first half of Friday’s game, completing 11-of-13 pass attempts for 183 yards and two touchdowns. He completed just two passes in the second half, but got some help from backup Antonio Pipkin who threw for 34 yards and rushed four times for 13 yards.
Bethel-Thompson made a number of impressive throws early against Montreal, including a fantastic 25-yard pass across his body to Chandler Worthy late in the first half. The completion set-up a three-yard touchdown run for D.J. Foster, giving Toronto a 14-10 lead.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson @The_Real_McLeod that throw is WORTHY of a touchdown 💪
— 3DownNation (@3DownNation) September 25, 2021
The pivot developed quick chemistry with Worthy as the pair connected for a 45-yard touchdown moments later following an interception by Vernon Adams Jr. It would have been nice to see more from Bethel-Thompson in the second half, but there’s no question that he did a nice job protecting the football and capping off drives.
The CFL is a quarterback-driven league and Bethel-Thompson played well enough to give the Argos a good shot to win.
Picks and punch
Toronto’s defence gave up a ton of yardage to the Als, but the unit’s three takeaways helped limit Montreal’s scoring. It started late in the first half when Chris Edwards picked off Adams at midfield.
Chris Edwards picks off Vernon Adams Jr. and the Argos get the ball back before halftime! pic.twitter.com/sha57PiyYZ
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 25, 2021
Shaquille Richardson made an excellent play early in the third quarter when he punched the ball out of B.J. Cunningham’s hands while he was being tackled. Toronto’s offence was unable to capitalize on the turnover, but it took points off the board for Montreal as they had penetrated deep into Argos’ territory.
Richardson made another big play late in the game when he intercepted Adams, who was under duress from oncoming blitzers. The turnover led to a field goal from Boris Bede, which ended up being the game’s winning points.
— CFL (@CFL) September 25, 2021
I am Boris!
Boris Bede has quietly had a strong season kicking the football and deserves more credit for the work he’s done. He connected on all three of his field goal attempts on Friday in his first game against his former team while averaging 73.6 yards on kickoffs and 43.6 net yards per punt.
Bede has a reputation for being a bit of a loose cannon with his powerful leg, but he’s provided Toronto with excellent field position all year. Two of his three missed field goals have come from beyond 50 yards and he hasn’t missed since Week 2. He’s also a perfect 11-for-11 on one-point converts.
The 31-year-old is showing why the Argos wanted to acquire him via trade. He makes life difficult for opposing returners, particularly on kickoffs with a league-best net average of 52.8 yards.
Injuries are inevitable in professional football and overcoming them is key to winning games consistently. Toronto was hit by a rash of injuries this week with key contributors Nick Arbuckle, Eric Rogers, Cameron Judge, and Henoc Muamba exiting the lineup due to various ailments.
We’ve already covered how Bethel-Thompson played well in place of Arbuckle, but the rest of Toronto’s replacements were on-point as well. Damion Jeanpierre was the team’s leading receiver with four receptions for 91 yards, while Dexter McCoil and Vontae Diggs are starting-calibre linebackers.
Replacing Judge and Muamba with Americans meant that Toronto had to start a couple of extra Canadians elsewhere, which didn’t hurt them either. Arjen Colquhoun held things down at field-side cornerback, while Sam Acheampong made three tackles at defensive tackle.
Depth is critical and Toronto has as much of it on its roster as any team in the CFL.