CFL: Redblacks 21, Argonauts 28
TORONTO — Facing the Ottawa Redblacks agrees with McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Bethel-Thompson threw two touchdown passes as Toronto (3-12) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 28-21 home win over Ottawa (3-12) on Friday night. It was the Argonauts' second straight win over the Redblacks and marked the third time Bethel-Thompson has led the Double Blue past their East Division rival.
Bethel-Thompson threw for 411 yards and three TDs in a 46-17 victory in Ottawa on Sept. 7. And in his first CFL start Aug. 2, 2018, Bethel-Thompson had 302 yards passing with four TDs in rallying Toronto to a thrilling 42-41 home victory over Ottawa.
On Friday night, Bethel-Thompson finished 27-of-36 passing for 300 yards and has a CFL-best 22 touchdown passes this season.
"I don't know if it was my best tonight," Bethel-Thompson said. "The second half we kind of let the rope go a little bit, especially me.
"There's a lot to get better at but it's always good to get a win. Winning is the best deodorant."
Bethel-Thompson is in his second stint this season as Toronto's starter. He opened 2019 as James Franklin's backup but compiled a 2-8 record after Franklin suffered a hamstring injury.
Bethel-Thompson returned as the Argos' starter Friday after they lost two games with Franklin under centre.
"Mac's a warrior . . . and not many guys can handle that," Toronto head coach Corey Chamblin said. "There are times when Mac knows he gets in his own way and he's hard on himself when that does happen.
"I think he's becoming one (a starter). I think he's taking steps to do that. Is he legitimate yet? We'll see the next couple of games."
The Argos had already been eliminated from the CFL playoffs. They delighted an announced BMO Field gathering of 10,368 by handing Ottawa an eighth straight loss and quashing its post-season aspirations.
"It's just frustrating, the losing," said Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell. "To see what our record is, I'm definitely disappointed we're in the position we're in."
It was a historic night for Toronto receiver S.J. Green. The 13-year veteran finished with 10 receptions for 170 yards to crack both 700-catch and 10,000-yard plateaus, becoming the 14th and 18th player, respectively, to achieve those milestones.
"He's such a great player but he's a better man," Bethel-Thompson said of Green. "The closer you get to S.J. the closer you get to greatness."
"For him to reach a milestone like that, to have guys see it and have a win is huge," Chamblin said. "There's a lot of young guys in that locker room, a lot of guys whose career is still growing.
"To see the consistency you have to have on a game-by-game basis, on a day-by-day basis to become one of those Hall of Fame players is huge."
Toronto was victorious in its first game since the front-office shuffle that saw Mike (Pinball) Clemons replace Jim Popp as general manager Tuesday.
But it wasn't a clean win as twice Ottawa recovered onside kicks. The first came to open the second half that led to rookie Will Arndt's eight-yard TD pass to R.J. Harris at 3:25 of the third quarter to cut Toronto's lead to 17-10.
Ottawa pulled to within 28-21 with 1:45 remaining on Lewis Ward's 50-yard field goal that was set up by the second onside recovery.
"When you look at it right now, we won a football game," Chamblin said. "There's always a bit of concern.
"They fought through it and we found a way to overcome those two setbacks. That's one of the marks and qualities of a winning team, to overcome setbacks."
Arndt finished 28-of-42 passing for 288 yards with two TDs and three interceptions in his first CFL start. He was also sacked four times.
"Not a lot of guys go into their first-ever start and not have some growing pains," Campbell said. "Being a close game and stuff happening in the fourth quarter, he sure kept his poise and stayed on track."
Ottawa got the ball back one last time at its 32-yard line with nine seconds remaining. However Tobi Antigha ended the threat with his second pick of the game.
Tyler Crapigna's 33-yard field goal at 13:08 of the third put Toronto ahead 27-10 but capped a huge momentum swing for the home team. Ottawa took the ball at the Argos' 28-yard line when returner Chris Rainey was flagged for unnecessary roughness after steamrolling Nigel Ronick on a Jonathon Jennings pass during a fake field goal attempt.
But Antigha intercepted Arndt on Ottawa's next play. His 45-yard return gave Toronto possession on the Redblacks' 40-yard line.
Armanti Edwards, with two, and James Franklin scored Toronto's touchdowns. Crapigna kicked two field goals and three converts while Ronnie Pferrer added a single.
Ward booted two field goals, two converts and a single for Ottawa, which trailed 17-3 at halftime.
This report by The Canadian Press was originally published Oct. 11, 2019.