Bethel-Thompson and the Argonauts Shock Redblacks With Fourth-Quarter Comeback

The Redblacks were clicking on offense, defense and special teams all nightlong, until late in the third quarter. They seemed prepared to finish off a statement win that would put them comfortably in the East division driver’s seat. Alas, it was not to be.

The Argonauts pulled-off a 24-point comeback to stun the Redblacks 42-41, capped off by McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s touchdown pass to Armanti Edwards with one second left on the clock.

“It got away,” said Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell after the game. “We never viewed it that we had the game in the bag. It’s the CFL and a lot of stuff happens.”

It was Bethel-Thompson’s first career CFL start. The first half was nothing to write home about for the 30-year-old, but he finished with over 300 yards passing on the strength of a star-making second half performance. Marc Trestman shook things up this week when he benched James Franklin in favour of Bethel-Thompson; it appears he made the right decision.

Between previous starters Franklin and Ricky Ray, the Argonauts combined for only two touchdown passes through the first six games of the season. Bethel-Thompson had four in the second half. Star receiver SJ Green contributed 134 yards and two touchdowns for Toronto.

The comeback spoiled a breakthrough performance from Diontae Spencer. After being stuck in a rut for most of the season, Spencer put up a combined 249 yards and two touchdowns against the Argonauts. That included a 71-yard punt return touchdown that ballooned the Redblack lead to 24.

Minus a third quarter interception, Trevor Harris played fantastic. He finished 27/35 with 381 yards and two touchdowns.

“This stings, it’s a punch in the gut,” said Harris. “But it’s not going to define our team and spill over. You have to let it hurt because it does.”

The Redblacks defense was without Kyries Hebert and Avery Ellis. They looked strong in the first half without the two starters by holding the Argonauts to seven points in the opening two quarters and forcing three turnovers. Former Argonaut Rico Murray intercepted Bethel-Thompson and is now tied for the league-lead in picks with three on the season.

It was all going Ottawa’s way. Starting strong side linebacker Anthony Cioffi, an emerging rookie, recovered a botched Toronto punt return in the endzone for his first career touchdown. The wheels fell off in the second half for the league’s second-ranked defense, giving up 35 points.

After having the best receiving year of his career last season, Greg Ellingson has now gone five straight games with less than 50 yards receiving. Ellingson also gave up a fumble in the first half.

There are many plays from Thursday night’s collapse that could stick with the Redblacks, but one mishap stands out. RJ Harris sprang loose on a 40-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter and was nearing the endzone when he got his feet tangled up with Ottawa offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers. The Redblacks would end up settling for a field goal on the drive, their last points of the night.

The Argonauts remain a monkey on the Redblacks’ back. They have now won four of the last five games against Ottawa. With the first strong performance at quarterback since Ricky Ray’s week two injury, the Argonauts may be trending upwards with a 2-5 record in the midst of the East division playoff race.

The Redblacks’ two-game winning streak is snapped and they fall to 4-3 on the season. They still boast the best record in the East however. Ottawa will host the Alouettes at TD Place next Saturday night.