August 9, 2018

CFL Insights: Argos floating on McLeod

Adam Gagon/

TORONTO — McLeod Bethel-Thompson will never forget his first career CFL start.

The Toronto Argonauts’ quarterback made history in his debut in Week 8, throwing four touchdown passes in a single half while leading his team on one of the greatest comebacks the league has ever seen.

After a tough first half against the East Division-leading Ottawa REDBLACKS, Bethel-Thompson led the Argos to six scoring drives on seven second-half possessions, erasing a 24-point deficit to mark the second-largest comeback in franchise history and the eighth in CFL history.

It was also the fourth-largest comeback by a home team ever:

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Last week’s win over Ottawa was remarkable for the Argos in more ways than one. For Bethel-Thompson, it was a significant statement in what Head Coach Marc Trestman has described as an ongoing quarterback battle between him and James Franklin.

The 30-year-old Bethel-Thompson, in just his second CFL season, shook off some early-game struggles to finish the outing with four touchdowns, putting him in an elite club of pivots to throw four or more touchdowns in their first start that includes Ricky Ray (4), Matt Dunigan (4), Condredge Holloway (4), Ron Reeves (4), and Joe Zuger (8).

Zuger’s eight touchdown passes came in his first start on Oct. 15, 1962 and remain the league’s all-time record for touchdown passes in a single game.

With two more touchdowns from Franklin on quarterback sneaks, the Argos’ six touchdown drives in the game matched their cumulative total from the previous four games.

The comeback marked the second-largest in franchise history, dating back to Oct. 2, 1994 when they came back from a 36-11 deficit with 12:17 remaining. Marvin Graves threw three touchdown passes in the last 10:15, including the game-winning pass to Robert Gordon with 1:07 remaining. That concluded a 28-0 run, leading to a 39-36 win.

It was also the largest in the league since 2016, when the Ticats, led by Jeremiah Masoli, erased a 25-point deficit to shock the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Argos’ second-half comeback against Ottawa could serve as a turning point in the season. Heading into the week at 1-5, the Boatmen were almost in must-win territory against a REDBLACKS team sitting 4-2 and leading the East. Instead of the gap growing, however, the Argos’ comeback heroics shrunk the deficit to just two games.

The Boatmen look to pick up where they left off with a return to BMO Field in Week 10 against the BC Lions.