Toronto Argonauts outlast Alouettes in season opener

TORONTO — It was the newcomers for the Toronto Argonauts that helped the Boatmen capture a win in their season opener on Thursday night.

Andrew Harris’ Argonauts escaped with a 20-19 win over the Montreal Alouettes at BMO Field in their home opener.

After signing with the Argos as a free agent, Andrew Harris’ focus was on leading by example. The veteran back did exactly that, carrying the ball 18 times for 87 yards, while adding 23 more yards receiving.

Harris wasn’t the only Toronto newcomer making an impact. Free agent signing, Brandon Banks wasted no time getting involved with his new team, reeling in three receptions for 39 yards, including a touchdown in his Argos debut.

Toronto quarterback, McLeod Bethel Thompson had a strong showing to open his season, completing 22 of his 31 passing attempts for 269 yards and a touchdown in the win over Montreal.

» Box score: Als, Argos by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Als at Argos
» Watch: Big hit by Alouettes’ Nick Usher

RB Andrew Harris #33 rushed for 110 yards in his debut with the Argonauts Photo: Chris Tanouye,

The Argonauts looked energized from the very first snap, as they took the field for the first time in 2022.

On the opening drive of the game, Shawn Oakman was able to create pressure in the Montreal backfield. Allowing Dewayne Hendrix to find Vernon Adams Jr. for the sack. Forcing a quick a two and out to start the game for the Alouettes offence.

On the ensuing drive for the Argos, it was Andrew Harris’ ball to start the game. The Toronto newcomer saw action on the first four plays of the game, totalling a very fitting 33 yards.

With Harris on the sidelines earning a much deserved rest, Bethel-Thompson connected with receiver DaVaris Daniels for 14 yards to set up a first and goal for Toronto.

In scoring position, Bethel-Thompson was looking for Brandon Banks in the end zone, but was intercepted by Mike Jones. After some deliberation from the officials, the interception was ruled incomplete, leading to a 17-yard field goal from Boris Bede to open the scoring.

On their second drive of the game, the Argos went back to Andrew Harris, this time he carried the ball for a gain of 16.

After the rush from Andrew Harris, Bethel-Thompson was looking for a pick up through the air, but Montreal’s Darius Williams jumped in front of the pass for an interception, which he returned to the end zone. However, Williams was ruled down on the play, keeping the Argos on top.

After the turnover, Adams was able to get away from the defence for a 10-yard scramble. But the Argos held strong, forcing Montreal to attempt a long field goal.

Als kicker, David Cote showed off his leg, hitting from 43-yards to give the Alouettes their first score of the contest.

Early in the second, tempers began to flare between to the two teams. Toronto offensive linemen Dejon Allen and Montreal defensive back, Tre Watson were both ejected from the game following an altercation between the teams.

Toronto boasted a strong defensive showing in the opening quarter, allowing just 21 yards of offence from Montreal. Looking for an answer to the Boatmen defence, the Als turned to Trevor Harris at quarterback in the second quarter.

On a second and long late in the quarter, Trevor Harris was able to find receiver Eugene Lewis for a 42 yard gain, putting the Als within striking distance. Montreal was unable to punch in a major, but Cote converted a 26-yard field goal to give his team their first lead of the game.

With just over a minute to play in the first half, Bethel-Thompson was looking to help his team regain the lead. Scanning the field, Bethel-Thompson found Argos’ newcomer, Markeith Ambles for a 30-yard reception. The catch and run from Ambles would set up a 29-yard field foal from Bede to put the Boatmen back on top.

Ambles wasn’t the only new face for Toronto making an impact in the second quarter. Defensive back, Tavarus McFadden intercepted Trevor Harris in the dying seconds of the first half. With time expired, Bede would connect on a 38-yard field goal to give Toronto a 11-6 lead at the half.

Argos WR Brandon Banks #16 en route to a touchdown Photo: Chris Tanouye,

It took less than a game for Banks to find the end zone for the first time as an Argonaut.

On the opening drive of the second half, Bethel-Thompson found the 2019 Most Outstanding Player for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Banks’ first touchdown in Toronto also marks the first touchdown of the season for his new team.

Trevor Harris looked determined to give his team a score to open the second half. Engineering a drive that put the Als inside of the Toronto 10-yard-line. However, a stout defence prevailed once again for the Argos, as Wynton McManis was able to get to Trevor Harris for a sack. Forcing Montreal to kick another field goal.

Despite the impressive defensive showing by Toronto, the Als remained determined to overcome the opposition.

Trailing by just eight points midway through the fourth quarter, Trevor Harris completed three straight passes before escaping on a seven-yard scramble to put Montreal on the goal line.

Montreal turned to quarterback, Dominique Davis to punch in the short-yardage score for their first touchdown of the game.

The Als opted to attempt a two-point conversion to tie the game, but Trevor Harris was unable to connect with Jake Wieneke.

After forcing the Argos to punt, Trevor Harris and the Alouettes had the ball back with just over three minutes remaining in the game. Toronto was able to force Montreal into a second and long, but Trevor Harris once again found Lewis. This time for a 25-yard completion to extend the drive.

On the same drive, the Als once again needed a conversion on a long second down. Trevor Harris showed the calm demeanor of a veteran quarterback, finding receiver Hergy Mayala for a 21-yard gain. Giving the Als a chance at a game-winning field goal.

Montreal put the game on the foot of Cote, who had made four consecutive field goals in the contest. However, this time Cote missed from 21-yards, sealing the Argos victory.

Looking ahead to Week 3 of action. The Alouettes will host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a Thursday night matchup. While the Argonauts will travel west to take on Nathan Rourke and the BC Lions on Saturday.

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