CFL: Montreal Alouettes beat Toronto Argonauts on last minute FG

MONTREAL — Antonio Pipkin ran for two touchdowns and Boris Bede kicked a late go-ahead field goal, sending the Montreal Alouettes to a 25-22 win over the Toronto Argonauts Friday night in Montreal.

Bede’s 27-yard field goal went through the uprights with 1:10 remaining, while Argonaut kicker Zack Medeiros’ 54-yard game-tying attempt hit the upright on the final play, helping the Als win their second game of the season in front of an excited home gathering at Percival-Molson Stadium.

With Johnny Manziel sidelined for the second week in a row, sophomore quarterback Pipkin continued to make the most of his opportunity in just his second career start, completing 22 of 32 attempts for 303 yards. He threw one interception while rushing for two touchdowns on quarterback sneaks.

Meanwhile, the Als’ defence, after allowing 500 or more yards in four straight games, held Toronto to just 355 net yards and 18 first downs in a much-needed bounce back. Argos’ star running back James Wilder Jr. was held to 29 yards on nine carries, while there were no late-game heroics for McLeod Bethel-Thompson this time, the sophomore quarterback held to 296 passing yards and a touchdown on 26-of-37 passing.

The Argos opened the scoring after settling for a 12-yard field goal from Medeiros deep in Montreal territory. But after Bede tied the game, momentum shifted in the Alouettes’ favour when national defensive back Tevaughn Campbell stripped Declan Cross of the football following a short gain, forcing the game’s first turnover in the waning seconds of the opening quarter.

Montreal QB Antonio Pipkin Photo: The Canadian Press

While the Als couldn’t fully convert on their opportunity, they would add two more field goals from the strong-footed Bede to put them in the driver’s seat with a 9-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Argos responded suddenly when Martese Jackson appeared to tight-rope his way along the sideline on his way to his first touchdown of the 2018 campaign. But the score was nullified when an automatic scoring review revealed that Jackson’s shoe grazed the white paint, marking him out of bounds near the 30.

It was of little consequence for Bethel-Thompson, who calmly led a five-play, 31-yard scoring drive, culminating in a crafty seven-yard touchdown grab by Armanti Edwards — the veteran receiver’s second of the season — to put the Argos back in the driver’s seat.

The Argos’ lead would be short-lived, however. Not to be outdone, Pipkin, his offence at his own 52-yard-line, evaded the Argos’ pass rush, bought himself some extra time and threw a strike across his body toEugene Lewis for a 32-yard gain into enemy territory. It was the type of play Pipkin had made often throughout Friday’s game, helping the Als move the football in ways not previously seen throughout the first half of 2018.

Two more completions to George Johnson and Ernest Jackson set up a second-and-goal from the two, and Pipkin did the rest with his legs, getting around the end for the Alouettes’ first touchdown of the game to vault them in front once again.

Pipkin’s late effort wrapped up a seven-play, 80-yard drive, giving Montreal a 15-10 halftime lead and concluding an impressive 30 minutes for the 23-year-old quarterback in his second career start, giving him 172 yards on 13-of-19 passing.

After barely amassing 170 yards in the first half, the Boatmen needed a change of course in the second half. Bethel-Thompson was more than comfortable steering the ship, leading the offence on a 14-play, 67-yard drive ending in a Medeiros chip shot to start the third quarter.

In stark contrast to a drive that took more than half of the third quarter to produce three points, the Argo defence turned the game on a dime shortly after. Pipkin’s first throw of the second half was too hot for the receiver to handle, deflecting into the hands of Alden Darby before being returned for a 46-yard touchdown, putting Toronto back in front.

While the first eight games of the season had seen plenty of ups and downs for first-time Argos defensive coordinator Mike Archer, his defence tightened up in the second half, not only scoring the team’s go-ahead points but also pitching a shutout in the third quarter, allowing Toronto to take a six-point lead into the fourth quarter.

However, it wasn’t meant to last. After a lengthy second-down conversion by S.J. Green was nullified by offensive pass interference — a call that was challenged by Head Coach Marc Trestman but upheld — the Argos had to punt and the Alouette offence subsequently went to work.

Argos defensive back Cassius Vaughn was injured while back-pedaling, and B.J. Cunningham took advantage, hauling in Pipkin’s pass before eventually being taken down at the one-yard-line. Vaughn was taken off the field on a cart and did not return to the game.

After the delay, Pipkin found the end zone on the very next play, scoring his second touchdown of the game on a quarterback sneak, though Bede’s miss on the ensuing convert prevented the Alouettes from reclaiming the lead.

With the game tied with 7:11 remaining, the Argos couldn’t muster any response on offence, having to punt the ball away right away.

Looking to prove he deserves another start, and with Johnny Manziel looking on from the sideline, Pipkin went right back to work with the offence. The sophomore pivot completed passes to Adarius Bowman andEugene Lewis, then, after the 3:00 warning, converted on a key second-and-six to get the offence down to the 20.

While the Argos defence eventually tightened up, Bede’s go-ahead field goal left the Argos with just 1:10 on the clock and a three-point deficit.

Hemmed deep in their own end after some indecision by speedy returner Mario Alford, Thompson rolled out to his right connected over the middle with Edwards, who moved the Argos up to midfield. Two more completions to Llevi Noel and James Wilder Jr. moved them into field goal range as the clock ticked under 30 seconds remaining.

However, after back-to-back comeback drives for Bethel-Thompson in wins over Ottawa and BC, there were no late-game heroics for the Argos’ pivot. Medeiros’ 54-yard attempt with no time on the clock hit the upright, ending the Argos’ comeback attempt and sealing a thrilling 25-22 win for the Als.

In his first start in place of the injured Tyrell Sutton, William Stanback had 53 yards on 11 carries for the Alouettes’ offence. Cunningham led the team in receiving with five catches for 85 yards.

The Argos were led by Edwards, who had four catches for a game-high 114 yards and a touchdown.

There have been rumours from TSN’s David Naylor that the Argos are close to a deal with recently-released star receiver Duron Carter.

The Argos are back on the field for the annual Labour Day Classic on Sept. 3 in Hamilton as they look to claw back in the race for second in the East. On the other hand, the Als return to action in the nation’s capital on Friday, Aug. 31, as they look for a second straight win in a matchup with the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

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