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May 31, 2019

Recap: Argos thump Als in preseason opener

TORONTO — The Toronto Argonauts flexed their muscles on Thursday afternoon, defeating the Montreal Alouettes 45-20 in both team’s first pre-season action of 2019.

Five different Argonauts receivers scored touchdowns on the cool day in front of an abundance of kids at Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto. S.J. Green, Rodney Smith, Llevi Noel, Austin Duke and Jimmy Ralph all hauled in passes for major scores in their team’s victory.

Toronto’s starting QB James Franklin, one of six Argonauts quarterbacks who saw action in the game, completed three of four passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Bridge and McLeod Bethel-Thompson both threw two touchdown passes on the afternoon while Michael O’Connor tallied one as well.

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Both team’s anticipated starting quarterbacks saw action early on Thursday afternoon with Antonio Pipkin taking the first series of the game for the Alouettes, while James Franklin was the starter for the Argonauts.

The first touchdown of the contest at Varsity Stadium was five minutes into the first quarter. Franklin found Jimmy Ralph wide open in the end zone for the major score. Kicker Drew Brown missed the convert kick and the Argonauts took an early 6-0 lead.

After the score, Jeff Mathews took over at quarterback for the visiting Alouettes but wasn’t able to get any offence generated for his squad.

Austin Duke hauled in his first touchdown as a member of the Toronto Argonauts 10 minutes into the opening frame. McLeod Bethel-Thompson made quick work of his first series of the game moving his team down the field. With Brown’s completed convert kick, the home team started to pull away (13-0).

Toronto’s offence continued to flex their muscles, as S.J. Green hauled in his first touchdown pass of the 2019 pre-season. Bethel-Thompson found Armanti Edwards (13 yards), Llevi Noel (23 yards) and Ralph (18 yards) for significant gains to get down the field and into scoring position. Tyler Crapigna was good on the convert and the Argonauts pulled ahead 19-0 as the first quarter clock ticked down.

Bridge and the Argonauts offence dissected the Alouettes defence on the Canadian pivot’s first drive of the game, moving down the field and into the red zone. Bridge found Llevi Noel on the goal line for the pass-catcher’s first touchdown of the game. Toronto took a commanding 27-0 lead.

Another Canadian quarterback, Noah Picton, took over for the Argonauts on their next drive, after the home team’s defence held the Alouettes to another two-and-out.

Aided by a pass interference called on Matthew Boateng, quarterback Matthew Shiltz and the Alouettes offence moved down the field into Toronto territory. Shiltz then took matters into his own hands, running in a 32-yard touchdown for the visiting team’s first score of the contest. Montreal attempted a two-point convert but was stopped at the goal line. Toronto held a 27-6 lead with under four minutes left in the half.

Toronto brought their momentum from the first half to the second, scoring on their first drive of the third quarter. Bridge threw an 79-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Smith to add to their lead (34-6). The double blue added field goal on their next drive to increase their lead to 37-6.

Montreal wasn’t going to go down without a fight, however. Receiver Malcolm Carter hauled in an eight-yard touchdown pass to start the fourth quarter for the Alouettes. The team attempted to go for two but it was unsuccessful. The score cut Toronto’s lead to 37-12.

That score added some life to the Als, and they once again found the end zone. It was linebacker Paul Kozachuk who picked off a Prukop pass on the Argonauts first throw of the fourth quarter. The University of Toronto alum, who played many games on this very field, took the interception to the house for the score. Along with a two-point convert, Montreal cut the home team’s lead to 37-18.

2019 draft pick Michael O’Connor saw his first CFL action late in the fourth quarter. The Canadian pivot moved the chains and brought his Argonauts down into Alouettes territory before finding Duke for the major score. That touchdown, along with the convert, extended Toronto’s lead to 45-20.

That would be the final score.

Next up for the Argonauts is a tilt with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats next week while the Alouettes host the Ottawa REDBLACKS in the final week of pre-season action.