Andrew Harris helped give Winnipeg a 20-point lead in the first half with a pair of touchdown runs, but the Argos managed to score 10 unanswered points before half-time and continued to build momentum before tying the game in the third quarter.
The Bombers appeared to pull away down the stretch with a seven-yard touchdown catch from receiver Chris Matthews and strip sack from defensive end Willie Jefferson, but Bethel-Thompson led a game-winning drive with under a minute left that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to receiver S.J. Green.
Toronto return specialist Chris Rainey stepped up with 229 total return yards, and Green racked up 120 yards and a touchdown on ten catches.
Harris reclaimed the league rushing lead with 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while quarterback Matt Nichols completed 21 of 31 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.
Winnipeg struck first on the opening drive of the game with a big 51-yard field goal from kicker Justin Medlock. The Bombers extended their lead later in the first quarter when Harris broke free for his longest rush of the season, a 56-yard touchdown run up the right side of the field. Medlock added the extra point to give Winnipeg an early 10-0 lead.
The Bombers notched a big play on special teams when Shayne Gauthier blocked an Argos punt, giving Winnipeg’s offence solid field position. But Toronto’s defence made a strong stand to keep the Bombers out of the end zone, as Argos linebacker Micah Awe sacked Nichols and forced Winnipeg to settle for a 42-yard field goal from Medlock.
Toronto’s defence stepped up with another big play in the second quarter when linebacker Justin Herdman-Reed stripped the football from Harris as the Bombers running back fought for extra yardage in scoring territory. Argos defensive back Qudarius Ford recovered the ball to shut down a long and promising drive for Winnipeg, but the offence was unable to convert the turnover into points.
Harris added his second touchdown of the game with under five minutes to go in the opening half on a 13-yard touchdown run that capped off another long Bombers drive. Medlock kicked the convert to put Winnipeg up 20-0.
The Argos then responded with their first points of the game on a 45-yard field goal from kicker Tyler Crapigna, and the team’s offence then began to get things rolling after getting the ball back shortly before half-time.
Bethel-Thompson helped cut the Bombers’ lead in half by driving his team down the field with accurate throws to Green, Derel Walker, Brandon Burks and Jimmy Ralph. Receiver Rodney Smith then hauled in a short pass and broke a tackle attempt from linebacker Adam Bighill to reach the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Crapigna added the extra point to make the score 20-10 heading into the third quarter.
The Argos managed to make it a one-score game on the first drive of the second half. A 20-yard field goal from Crapigna capped off another lengthy drive that saw Bethel-Thompson continue to find a rhythm with key passes to Burks, Ralph and Green. Burks exploded for a 55-yard touchdown on a screen pass early in the drive, but the score was negated due to a holding penalty on Toronto.
The Argos’ defence stood strong to force a quick punt, and the team continued to build momentum after that with a big special teams play. Rainey turned on the jets for a 78-yard punt return, taking the ball all the way down to Winnipeg’s seven-yard line. Rainey broke multiple tackles on the play and nearly scored before finally being taken down by Winnipeg’s Kerfalla Exumé.
Bethel-Thompson finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to an unlikely target: offensive lineman Jamal Campbell. Crapigna added the extra point to tie the game at 20 apiece heading into the final quarter.
The Bombers pulled ahead once again on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Nichols to Matthews, but Toronto responded by adding a critical single point off a 46-yard punt from Zack Medeiros.
Winnipeg’s defence appeared to shut down the Argos’ comeback hopes when Jefferson stripped the ball away from Bethel-Thompson, but Toronto got the ball back once again with under two minutes left and proceeded to drive down the field for the game-winning score.
Week 9 will see the Winnipeg Blue Bombers host the Calgary Stampeders next Thursday, while the Toronto Argonauts will get a week off before hosting the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 10.