June 22, 2024

Argos come out on top over Elks in high-scoring matchup

Bailey McLean/CFL.ca

TORONTO — McLeod Bethel-Thompson did a lot of winning when he was a Toronto Argonaut. Returning to the city he brought two Grey Cups to, the now Edmonton Elks pivot couldn’t find another win at BMO Field on Saturday night as the Argos won a high-scoring, back-and-forth contest 39-36 through a game-winning field goal.

Argos quarterback Cameron Dukes went 18-21 for 214 yards with two touchdowns through the air, and one on the ground. Running back Ka’Deem Carey dominated the ground game for the Argos, putting up 104 rushing yards and a score.

Bethel-Thompson was deadly through the air, going 28-38 for 342 yards and four touchdown tosses. Receiver Dillon Mitchell hauled in 120 of those yards on five catches, also grabbing the game’s first touchdown score.

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Javon Leake made a big 27-yard return for the Elks’ first offensive drive of the evening. Bethel-Thompson made his first completion of the day, finding Eugene Lewis on second down for a 14-yard gain. A deep shot from Bethel-Thompson to Mitchell good for 30 yards thrusted the Elks into an early lead, with Boris Bede‘s kick attempt making it 7-0 for the away team.

Carey got a number of touches for the Argos on their third drive as they tried to find their rhythm on offence. It was Deonta McMahon who finished things off with a gashing 44-yard run to the end zone to cap off a five-play scoring drive to tie things up 7-7.

Bethel-Thompson and the Elks would respond on their follow-up drive. Hergy Mayala and Lewis each took down 12-yard grabs to move the chains. Bethel-Thompson looked deep to find Mitchell for a huge 39-yard reception to bring the Elks to the Argos’ six-yard line. From there, Bethel-Thompson floated a touchdown pass to Lewis to push the visitors back into the lead. Bede’s point after made it 14-7 as time expired in the first quarter.

Janarion Grant made a 47-yard return to open the second quarter for the Argos. Grant followed up his return with a 14-yard catch-and-run to bring the offence into Edmonton’s half. Dejon Brissett grabbed an 11-yard reception and Carey’s conversion on second down brought the Argos just outside the red zone. A 21-yard throw from Dukes to Rasheed Bailey in the end zone capped off the seven-play, 60-yard drive and Lirim Hajrullahu‘s kick attempt made it a 14-14 game.

After a quick two-and-out left the Elks punting the ball away from their nine-yard line, the Argos made use of their good field position. A couple of rushes by Carey brought the home team to Edmonton’s 49, and Dukes connected with Brissett for nine yards to give the Argos another first down on second-and-nine, with the receiver leaving the game through injury after making the play. A coach’s challenge gave the Argos a first down in the red zone after Devodric Bynum was called for a defensive pass interference after getting tangled up with Makai Polk. A couple of positive runs from McMahon made it first-and-goal for the Argos and Dukes called his own number for a seven-yard dash into the end zone. The extra point made it 21-14 for the final score of the half.

A 60-yard punt that went through the Argos’ end zone gave the Elks a single early in the third frame, cutting their deficit to six. On Toronto’s next drive, an attempted flea flicker thrown by McMahon only found the grateful arms of Edmonton’s Loucheiz Purifoy, resulting in the game’s first turnover. Three plays later, Bethel-Thompson found Mayala free in the end zone. A successful kick from Bede meant that the Elks retook the lead at 21-20.

The Argos crafted a quick reply with an effective trip down the field. Dukes delivered to Richie Sindani and Damonte Coxie, with each receiver hauling in double-digit receptions. After a scramble from Dukes brought Toronto within touching distance of the end zone, Carey ran the ball in for the touchdown. Going for the two-point conversion, Dukes took it in himself, making it 29-22 for the hosts.

At the start of the fourth quarter, a two-and-out from the Argos gave the Elks the ball on their own 39-yard line. On the first play of their possession, Bethel-Thompson and Mitchell connected for another huge gain. Initially ruled a 71-yard touchdown, the command centre brought the play back after it was deemed Mitchell went down after contact at Toronto’s 35. A 27-yard catch from Mayala set up the Elks in the red zone and on the following play, Kurleigh Gittens Jr. got loose deep in the end zone. The Elks made it 29-29 after Bede’s successful kick.

On the ensuing drive, Dukes and the Argos’ offence stormed back once more. A 20-yard toss to Polk got things started and an unnecessary roughness penalty called against Kai Gray brought the Boatmen 15 yards closer to the Elks’ end zone. Coxie brought in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Dukes and Hajrullahu’s kick afterwards made it 36-29 in favour of the Argos.


Looking to answer back, the Elks got to Toronto’s 23-yard and from there, Bethel-Thompson looked Mayala’s way at the goal line. Initially ruled incomplete, Edmonton head coach Chris Jones challenged for a defensive pass interference against DaShaun Amos and got the call. Dakota Prukop powered into the end zone from a yard out and Bede then made it a tie game with 3:34 to go.

After forcing a punt from Edmonton deep in their own half, the Argos controlled possession with just 1:07 left in the game. A 15-yard rush from Carey got his team to Edmonton’s 30 and from there, Hajrullahu called game with the only field goal of the evening, delivering the goods from 37 yards out as time expired to make it 39-36 Toronto.

A trip to face the BC Lions on June 27 awaits the Edmonton Elks in their next game in Week 4. For the Toronto Argonauts, it will be a battle between two undefeated clubs in their next contest when they host the Montreal Alouettes on June 28.

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