Argonauts defeat Ottawa REDBLACKS in a back and forth offensive battle

TORONTO – In a back-and-forth offensive battle that saw five lead changes between two East Division teams, the Toronto Argonauts came out on top in front of their home crowd.

The Argos defeated the REDBLACKS 44-31, thanks to 21 second quarter points and a full-team effort including big defensive stops in the fourth quarter, to stay perfect at home.

Chad Kelly threw for 417 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in the win as DaVaris Daniels had a massive game for the Argos recording 180 yards on six receptions for three touchdowns.

Adarius Pickett was key for Toronto’s defence with five tackles and a sack while Wynton McManis added eight tackles and Folarin Orimolade added another sack.

Dustin Crum threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns in the loss while Jaelon Acklin grabbed six receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

The REDBLACKS got out to a hot start as Crum found Justin Hardy for a first down, followed by Acklin getting inside position to move the sticks, but a huge hit by Jamal Peters forced a third down for Ottawa, with Lewis Ward stepping on the field to go 5-of-6 from 50-plus yards on the season to put the REDBLACKS on top first.

Argonauts WRs celebrating Photo: Kevin Sousa/

Getting the ball back a play later, Crum once again found Acklin for a career-high 55 yards, and his first touchdown of 2023, to put the REDBLACKS up 10-0 early.

The Argos offence responded quickly, with two consecutive first downs to set up a big AJ Ouellette run for 27 yards to the Ottawa 1o yard line, where Kelly would find Daniels to cut the lead to three as the Argos quarterback went 5-of-5 for 51 yards on the drive.

Forcing the REDBLACKS to punt to start the second quarter, Kelly slid to his right to lay a 60-yard touchdown to Daniels down the sideline, the second touchdown of the half and longest reception of the season for Daniels, as the Argos took the lead in the game.

But Ottawa’s offence would respond on their next drive, though not as quickly as the Argos, as the REDBLACKS took their time on an 11-play, 78-yard drive that took almost seven minutes. Devonte Williams spun his defender to get to the Argos 20-yard line, and once again found 11 yards on the ground to get inside the 10-yard line, before Crum found Hardy for the touchdown to take the lead back.

Yet it only took the Argos less than two-and-a-half minutes to grab the lead once again, with momentum on their side, as Daniels got down to the Ottawa 25-yard line with a 44-yard reception. Kelly showed off his quarterback smarts finding Ouellette for 12 yards as he was being taken down to take back the lead going 70 yards in five plays.

While trying to make the deficit more than a one-score game, a Kurleigh Gittens Jr. reception was called back due to unnecessary roughness and the Argos were moved back to their own 40 yard line. The only mistake Kelly seemed to make in the half was costly, as he threw an interception and Cariel Brooks grabbed his first pick-six as a member of the REDBLACKS, taking it 42 yards to give Ottawa the lead again.

Wanting the lead back before the half, Daniels continued his monster game grabbing a 30-yard reception to get the Argos to the Ottawa 44-yard line, with Cam Phillips grabbing a 23-yard catch for the first down to keep the drive alive, with Dejon Brissett going another 19 yards for another first down.

Kelly tried for the touchdown himself in the red zone, but the Argos put in Cameron Dukes on second-and-goal for the touchdown, putting the Argos ahead on his 25th birthday with his third touchdown of the season, the fifth lead change of first half.

With both teams forced to punt on each of their first drives of the second half, it would be the Argos defence who scored the first touchdown as Javon Leake took a 79-yard punt return to the end zone for Toronto to lead by 10.

Using short yardage plays to convert on second downs, the REDBLACKS moved back downfield with an Acklin reception for 22 yards putting Ottawa on Toronto’s 11-yard line, and clearing out the backfield Crum found his insider receiver Jackson Bennett on the short side for his first touchdown of the season, as Ottawa closed in to trail by three.

The Argos looked to lead by 10 once again as a huge reception from Phillips for 48 yards got his side to the Ottawa 26-yard-line, but the REDBLACKS defence would force a turnover on downs to stop Ouellette twice to deny another Toronto touchdown with 2:56 left to play in the quarter.

Ottawa QB Dustin Crum threw for 292 yards and 3 TDS. Photo: Kevin Sousa/

But after the REDBLACKS were quickly forced to punt on their next drive, a face mask penalty put the Argos back inside the Ottawa 14-yard line, and Kelly found Daniels wide open once again for his third touchdown of the night.

The Argos lead by nine after an unsuccessful two-point conversion, but a successful kickoff from Boris Bede would get Toronto the extra point to lead by 10 to end the third quarter.

With neither team able to replicate their scoring drives from earlier in the game, Shawn Oakman came up with a big sack on Crum, the fourth time the quarterback was sacked that game as he remains the most hit quarterback in the league.

But a challenge from Ottawa resulted in a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty that kept the REDBLACKS drive alive, immediately followed by an unnecessary roughness penalty for another 15 yards. Even after moving up 30 yards, Deionte Knight came up with another sack to force the REDBLACKS into a third down situation where they were forced to punt.

Just as penalties had kept Ottawa’s offence on the field, defensive pass interference on Damon Webb kept the Argos’ next drive alive with an automatic first down for 10 yards. An Ouellette run for 20 yards marked another first down, and the Kelly to Daniels connection was once again on display at the three-minute warning as he hauled in a 22-yard reception.

With 2:30 on the clock, Kelly found Phillips for 20 yards to get to the Ottawa 30-yard line, with Andrew Harris doing the ground work to keep moving the chains for Toronto as the clock continued to wind down. With Harris unable to get a first down to attempt a touchdown, Bede extended Toronto’s lead to 13 with a 21-yard field goal with 34 seconds left to play that would hold for the Argos to win.

The Argos will have their final bye of the season in Week 11, while the REDBLACKS will host the Montreal Alouettes at home at TD Place Stadium at 7:00 p.m. ET on Aug. 19.

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