Argonauts punch playoff ticket in OT win over BC Lions

The Toronto Argonauts secured their first trip to the playoffs since 2017 after coming through in overtime against the BC Lions 31-29.

Fighting the wind and the rain, both quarterbacks still managed to throw for a touchdown. For the Argos, Mcleod Bethel-Thompson tossed for 155 yards and a touchdown. BC’s Michael Reilly threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns.

As a result of the conditions, both teams leaned heavily on the run game in the second half which spawned a battle between D.J. Foster, who rushed for 65 yards and James Butler who racked up 69 on the night.

In his first game back from suffering a hand injury, Lucky Whitehead hauled in two passes for 20 yards.

Boris Bede had a busy night from the line, sailing all 5 of his kicks through for 15 of the Argos’ 31 points.

Samuel Acheampong was credited with a blocked field goal on the night which sent the two teams to overtime.

» Through the Lens: BC at Toronto 
» Boxscore: Lions, Argos by the numbers
» Watch: Reilly airs it out early for an efficient end zone trip

After surrendering a first down in the opening frame of the game, Toronto’s defence dug in and came away with the first big play. Picking off Michael Reilly on his only fourth passing attempt, Jeff Richards provided the Argos with a chance to capitalize. The Argos would work their way down to the Lions’ 16-yard line led by their newly anointed franchise quarterback in Bethel-Thompson. An incomplete pass intended for Tommy Nield prompt a Bede field goal. In sailing his 29-yard chip shot through the uprights, the Argos got out to a 3-0 lead.

Toronto scored on their second straight drive following a two-and-out by the Lions as Bethel-Thompson ended a nine-play, 83-yard drive by threading the needle to Davaris Daniels in the end zone.

Back under centre for his third drive of the first quarter, Reilly and the Lions’ offence looked more in sync. Back-to-back completions to Dominique Rhymes and Shaquille Johnson yielded 56 yards before Reilly unloaded a shot to the endzone on a rope to Bryan Burnham. Burnham brought down the 32-yard pass for a touchdown and the Lions found themselves back in the mix, trailing by just a field goal.

A pair of flags for 30 yards on the Argos’ defence in the second quarter kept a Lions’ drive alive. Facing a fresh set of downs now after converting a QB sneak, Reilly uncorked another shot at the endzone. This time, he found Rhymes on single-man coverage who streaked up the middle of the field and hauled in the go-ahead touchdown.

The Argos tacked on a pair of field goals before the half expired with one coming after failing to capitalize on a defensive pass interference penalty deep in Lions’ territory.

In the third quarter, the conditions at BMO Field became a factor for both teams due to the natural grass playing surface becoming wet from the rain. For the Lions, it became apparent after Lucky Whitehead was unable to cut back for a pass intended for him. The Argos fell victim on their next possession as Bethel-Thompson had a pass intended for Dres Anderson slip right through his hands.

Bede, however, did not allow the conditions to get in the way of a 50-yard field goal attempt.  With the wind and rain in his face, he flew his fourth attempt through the uprights which extended the Argos lead to 20-14.

BC began to have things go their way on defence late in the third quarter with Bo Lokombo tipping a Bethel-Thompson pass which was picked off by and ran back to the end zone by Obum Gwachum.

Looking to respond, the Argos turned to the foot of their kicker who could do no wrong as following stalled out drive, Bede’s fifth attempt on the night was good from 22 yards.

Facing a chance to take a one-point lead, Jimmy Camacho missed his first field goal attempt from 50-yards out. The ball would exit the back of the endzone for a single, making it a 23-22 Argo’s lead.

With under two minutes to go and facing a third down, Reilly caught Toronto’s Dexter McCoil offside. Facing a first down now, the Lions worked the ball into field goal position. In an attempt to go ahead, Acheampong jumped in front of the ball, blocking the go-ahead field goal.

Collecting the ball with mere seconds left on the clock, the Lions looked primed to walk the game off following a 13-yard punt return.

With the chance to hand the Argos their first loss at home, Camacho pulled the game-winning field goal wide right. But, the ball tricked through the back of the end zone for a single, sending the teams to overtime.

Deferring to take the ball, the Lions started overtime on defence with the Argos on offence who would end their first drive with a touchdown with Antonio Pipkin executing the QB sneak. The Argos would tack on a two-point conversion the next play.

It would take the Lions only two plays during overtime to find the endzone with Reilly connecting with Jacob Scarfone in the endzone.

Needing a two-point convert to tie the game, Reilly’s attempt to find Johnson fell incomplete which sealed the win for the Double Blue.

Next up for the Argos will be a trip out to Ottawa to take on the REDBLACKS next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Lions will head to Hamilton to take on the Tiger-Cats next Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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