Argonauts rally in fourth quarter to earn comeback win in Edmonton

EDMONTON — In the 100th regular season meeting between the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Elks, a 16-point fourth quarter from the Argos helped them earn a 28-23 comeback win.

Toronto running back A.J. Ouellette delivered the game winning touchdown with 30 seconds remaining to complete the comeback. Ouellette carried the ball nine times for 91 yards as he helped the Boatmen secure their first win in Edmonton since 2013.

Argos kicker Boris Bede was the highest scoring player for the Double Blue in their win over Edmonton Saturday. Bede converted all five of his field goal attempts, including three from 40-yards or longer as he delivered 15 crucial points in the win.

Toronto quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson showed resiliency in a game that seemingly wasn’t going his way early on. Bethel-Thompson completed 19 passes for 273 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to DaVaris Daniels in the fourth quarter to help ignite his team’s comeback efforts.

 Box Score: Argos, Elks by the numbers
» Watch: AJ Ouellette punches in game winning TD

The Green and Gold looked eager to make their presence felt early on in the game. After receiving the opening kick, Taylor Cornelius helped to engineer an eight-play scoring drive, highlighted by two big-gains from Derel Walker to help push his team beyond the Toronto 40-yard-line.

A sack from Argos defensive lineman Shawn Oakman and a holding call against the Elks would stall the drive, forcing Edmonton to call on their kicking team. Sergio Castillo lined up a 50-yard field goal attempt and delivered from long-range, giving his team the early lead.

With their first offensive possession of the game, Toronto would immediately manage a response to the Edmonton score. A 21-yard completion from McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Cam Phillips gave the Argonauts a fresh set of downs well within Elks territory.

Edmonton’s defence would stave off the passing attack from the Boatmen, holding them short of a first down. The Argonauts would lean on kicker Boris Bede to help even the score and find their first points of the game. Bede had no trouble converting the 30-yard field goal attempt and tying the game.

Towards the end of the first quarter the Elks offence was beginning to drive the field as running back Kevin Brown broke away for a hard eight-yard run. Brown opened the second quarter in similar fashion as he took the hand off and tore away from the Argos defenders for a 20-yard gain, setting his team up inside the Toronto 15-yard-line.

Facing a second-and-five, Cornelius dropped back into the pocket looking to put the ball in the air and connected with receiver Danny Vandervoort for a seven-yard touchdown pass. The score from Vandervoort gives him his third career touchdown reception on just the eighth reception of his career.

Following the score from Edmonton, Toronto’s fortunes took a turn for the worst. Attempting a trick play on kickoff, Toronto fumbled the throw-back attempt and Elks defensive lineman Avery Ellis managed to recover the loose football, giving his team possession from Toronto’s 40-yard-line.

However, Toronto would manage to limit the damage from the turnover as they held the Elks out of the end zone and forced a field goal try. Castillo split the upright with the 37-yard attempt for his second make of the game, giving his team a 10-point lead in the second quarter.

Brown continued to be dominant force for the Elks on the ground as the running back strung together four hard runs for 33 yards. The Elks wouldn’t find the end zone on the drive, but the playmaking ability of Brown still managed to help his team find points. Castillo knocked through a 47-yard field goal attempt for his third make of the game.

Nearing the end of the games first half, Toronto would cut into the Edmonton lead as Bede took the field to attempt his second field goal of the game. The veteran kicker split the uprights from 49-yards out pulling to his team within 10-points as the Elks took a 16-6 lead into the half.

The Argonauts would be the first team to open the scoring in the game’s second half. A 20-yard completion from Bethel-Thompson to Tommy Nield helped pushed the Argos beyond the Edmonton 35-yard-line.

Edmonton’s secondary would remain poised as they forced two consecutive incompletions from the Boatmen pivot, forcing Toronto to call on Bede for a third time. Bede delivered a well-struck kick and converted a 45-yard attempt. On the ensuing Toronto possession Bede would add another long-range field goal, delivering a 42-yard field goal to make it a 16-12 game nearing the end of the third.

With under a minute to play before the final quarter of action, the Boatman appeared to have found some semblance of an offensive rhythm. Bethel-Thompson completed a 39-yard pass up the right sideline to DaVaris Daniels for his first catch of the game, putting his team well within scoring range.

However, an incompletion on a pass intended for Markeith Ambles would force Toronto to call upon their kicking unit for their fifth field goal attempt of the game. Bede had no trouble as he converted a 32-yard attempt, bring the Argos within one-point of the Edmonton lead.

With their first possession of the games final quarter, Elks appeared poised to deliver a response to the string of Argonauts scoring plays. With a new set of downs from just beyond the Toronto 30-yard-line, the Argos defensive pressure forced an errant throw from Cornelius as DeShaun Amos was able to step in front of the pass for an interception on the goal line.

The Elks would limit the damage from the interception as they forced a long incompletion from Bethel-Thompson on a second-down forcing an Argos punt. On the return Edmonton’s Christian Saulsberry broke free for a 38-yard return and gained extra yardage as the Argos were flagged for a late hit out of bounds.

Starting their drive already in Argonauts territory, Cornelius broke free from the Toronto defensive pressure for a 30-yard gain, helping set his team up with a first-and-goal from the Toronto four-yard-line.

With an excellent opportunity to extend their lead and gain some breathing room, Brown took the handoff and powered his way into the end zone for his first career touchdown, pushing the Edmonton lead 23-15.

Toronto’s Jeremiah Haydell received the kick following the score from the Elks, looking to make a play Haydell tried to make a cut, but was met by a wall of Green and Gold and a hard hit jarred the ball loose and Edmonton’s Christian Rector managed to recover the fumble.

Tre Ford entered the game for the Elks, following a hit to Cornelius that forced him out of the game. With his first passing attempt of the evening, Ford was intercepted by Royce Metchie, giving his team the ball back with under five-minutes remaining in the game.

Bethel-Thompson and the Argos offence would not waste the opportunity to score points following the interception from Metchie. The Boatmen pivot heaved a pass downfield towards the end zone that fell into the hands of Daniels, who made an acrobatic catch for a 35-yard touchdown.

The Argos would opt to keep their offence on the field to attempt the two-point conversion and tie the game. However, the pass towards the goal line intended for Nield was broken up as the Elks held onto a narrow 23-21 lead.

With their offence back on the field with under two-minutes to play, the Argos looked determined to overtake the Elks and gain the lead late in the game. Bethel-Thompson delivered a 19-yard strike to Kurleigh Gittens Jr. to push the Double Blue offence into field goal range.

Despite being well within range for Bede to attempt a field goal, Toronto’s Ouellette took matters into his own hands. Facing a second-and-nine, Ouellette went untouched as he broke through the Edmonton defensive line for a 25-yard touchdown run and delivering a win for Argos in Edmonton for the first time since 2013.

Looking ahead to Week 20, the Argos will travel to La Belle Provice for a crucial East Division battle with the Montreal Alouettes, while the Elks will remain at home and will play host to the BC Lions in a West Division clash.

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