McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Tommy Nield rallied the Toronto Argonauts to a wild 23-20 home win over the B.C. Lions on Saturday.
Bethel-Thompson hit Nield on a 37-yard scoring strike at 12:10 to put Toronto ahead 23-20. B.C.’s Sean Whyte appeared poised to tie the CFL contest but his 41-yard field goal attempt with 1:30 remaining hit the left upright.
B.C. quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. began the fourth-quarter fireworks with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Keon Hatcher just 50 seconds into the quarter to put B.C. ahead 17-16. It was set up by Jordan Williams’ 38-yard return of a Bethel-Thompson fumble before teammate Mathieu Betts recovered Williams’ fumble at the Toronto 31-yard line.
Whyte then connected from 30 yards out at 10:44 to give the Lions a 20-16 advantage.
Toronto (9-6) moved four points ahead of Montreal (7-7) atop the East Division standings. The Alouettes play the Ottawa Redblacks (3-11) on Monday.
Toronto, which has already clinched a playoff berth, and Montreal end their regular seasons with a home-and-home series.
B.C. (10-5) remains second in the West Division, ahead of idle Calgary (10-5) after winning the season-series with the Stampeders. The Lions have clinched a playoff berth, their first since 2018.
Toronto played its first home game since a 37-20 win over Hamilton on Aug. 26 before a season-high BMO Field gathering of 14,963. There were 11,089 spectators present Saturday as the Toronto Blue Jays were simultaneously facing the Seattle Mariners in American League wild-card playoff action at Rogers Centre.
Toronto went 3-1 between home contests but was coming off a 29-2 road loss to the Calgary Stampeders last week. The two points was the Argos’ lowest total since a 26-0 loss to Edmonton on July 25, 2019.
Chad Kelly scored Toronto’s other touchdown. Boris Bede had two converts and three field goals.
Alexander Hollins registered B.C.’s other touchdown. Whyte kicked two converts and two field goals.
After winning the toss and deferring, Toronto took the ball — and wind — to open the third. A likely explanation is the Argos looked to add to their six-point advantage in the quarter rather than face having to play from behind in the fourth.
But while Bede’s 26-yard field goal at 8:08 put Toronto ahead 16-7, Whyte countered with a 16-yard boot at 12:30.
Adams Jr. threaded the needle to Hollins on a 33-yard TD strike at 12:25 of the second to cut Toronto’s halftime lead to 13-7. Hollins made the catch between Argos’ defenders Royce Metchie and Jamal Peters to cap a smart five-play, 78-yard march.
Bede’s 21-yard field goal at 6:53 gave Toronto a 13-0 lead. It came after the Argos unsuccessfully tried to draw the Lions offside on third-and-two.
Kelly’s one-yard TD run 15 seconds into the second put Toronto ahead 10-0, set up by Benoit Marion’s fumble recovery at the Lions 29-yard line. Twice the Argos lined up on third-and-short inside the Lions’ 10-yard line and each time the visitors jumped offside, giving the Double Blue a fresh set of downs.
Bede opened the scoring with a 13-yard field goal at 8:31 of the first. Toronto took possession at the B.C. 29 following an illegal kick flag on Stefan Flintoff’s 29-yard punt.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press