TORONTO - McLeod Bethel-Thompson delivered a stunning conclusion to his first CFL start.
Bethel-Thompson's 23-yard TD strike to Armanti Edwards with one second remaining rallied the Toronto Argonauts to a stunning 42-41 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks on Thursday night. Edwards' catch capped an 11-play, 86-yard march engineered by Bethel-Thompson, who was 25-of-37 passing for 302 yards with four TDs and an interception in his first game as a CFL starter.
He was especially sharp in the second half, completing 18-of-25 passes for 233 yards and the four TDs.
“My teammates held me up the whole game, they carried me the way,'' a modest Bethel-Thompson said afterwards. “All I did was my 1/12th and sometimes I did half of my 1/12th.
“We didn't play our best game, I know I didn't play my best game in the first half. But there was no give up, there wasn't a single blink. We definitely needed this.''
Diontae Spencer's 88-yard punt return TD at 10:25 of the third gave Ottawa (4-3) a seemingly insurmountable 38-14 advantage. Spencer's electrifying run came after Toronto opened the second half impressively as Bethel-Thompson hit S.J. Green on a five-yard TD pass at 3:19 to cap a 60-yard, eight-play march.
Ottawa countered with a 64-yard, 10-play drive that resulted in Lewis Ward's 17-yard field goal at 9:01 before Spencer made it a 24-point contest.
Toronto (2-5) snapped a three-game losing streak in its first contest against an East Division opponent before a BMO Field gathering of 11,857.
Bethel-Thompson, after throwing for 122 yards in the third, found Green on an 11-yard TD pass at 1:12 of the fourth to cut Ottawa's lead to 38-26.
Ward's 14-yard field goal at 4:18 put Ottawa ahead 41-26. But after Zack Medeiros's 32-yard field goal at 8:57, Bethel-Thompson hit James Wilder Jr. on a 20-yard TD pass at 11:34 to pull Toronto to within 41-36.
The scoring play was set up by Martese Jackson's 70-yard punt return.
Toronto began its final drive at its 24-yard line with 1:45 remaining. Wilder Jr. said in the huddle there was no doubt in his mind Bethel-Thompson was behind the wheel.
“He took the offence by charge and made it happen and got a team win,'' said Wilder Jr., who ran for a game-high 73 yards on 17 carries. “He just picked it up, he just led us down the field.
“He's a general, that's what the quarterback is. He showed a lot today.”
Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell said his club was unable to put Toronto away in the second half. The Argos outscored the Redblacks 35-13 in the final two quarters and by a 22-3 margin in the fourth quarter alone.