MONTREAL – September 15, 2023 – On the back of a strong fourth-quarter effort, the Toronto Argonauts overcame a late deficit to beat the Montreal Alouettes 23-20 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Chad Kelly completed 21 of 35 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown on the night while AJ Ouellette finished with 53 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Tommy Nield paced all Argos receivers with seven receptions on nine targets for 82 yards.
The Toronto defence came up with five sacks, eight tackles for losses, and an interception in the win.
The two teams opened the contest trading two-and-outs, but Montreal got the first points of the game off the foot of David Cote, who knocked a 33-yarder through to make it 3-0 for the home side.
But Kelly and the Argos’ offence had an immediate answer. They drove the field, using the hurry-up to catch the Als off-guard. A 27-yard rush from AJ Ouellette got Toronto inside the 30, and he finished off the drive with a run from two yards out to put the Argos ahead for the first time on the night.
The defences settled in to end the first half, turning the game into a field position battle. The Argos defence forced a deep punt that led to a return from Javon Leake that started the offence on Montreal’s side of the field. Boris Bede knocked through a 47-yarder to push the lead to 10-7 at halftime.
Toronto opened the second half with the ball, and made another push down the field, with Kelly finding Nield for a pair of completions for 27 yards before hitting DaVaris Daniels to get inside the 10. But the drive stalled from there, with Bede coming on to hit a chip-shot 16-yarder to make it 13-3.
With that field goal, Bede became the 25th player in CFL history to eclipse the 1,000-career points mark.
Montreal answered by finding the end zone for the first time on the night. Completions by Cody Fajardo to Tyler Snead and Tyson Philpot pushed the ball into scoring range, and an unnecessary roughness penalty placed the Als on the one-yard line. Caleb Evans punched it in on the sneak to make it a three-point game.
The Argos went two-and-out on the ensuing possession and Chandler Worthy’s punt return put Montreal inside field goal range. Cote hit a 16-yarder of his own to knot the game at 13 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
Offensive struggles continued to hamper Toronto heading into the fourth. Montreal opened the final frame with a touchdown drive, capped off by a 14-yard connection between Fajardo and Philpot to give Montreal the lead back.
Down by a touchdown with 12 minutes remaining, the Argos continued to push to turn the tide. But the game would be turned on its head in the final two minutes.
Kelly and the offence clicked and started to drive, making it from inside their own 10 to the opposing red zone in 10 plays. A shot to the back-right corner of the end zone by Kelly was hauled in by Damonte Coxie, but a flag wiped out the play. The third down conversion came up short, leaving Toronto desperate to get the ball back for another shot.
The defence did its job, getting Kelly and Co. back on the field with 1:53 remaining in regulation.
It would take just two plays for the Argos to knot the game back up. Kelly found Dejon Brissett down the left sideline for a 25-yard gainer before hitting Coxie over the top of the defence for a 41-yard touchdown.
Montreal looked to answer, but the Argos’ defence came up with another signature play in the dying minutes. Fajardo was hit by Adarius Pickett as he threw, and the ball fell into the waiting arms of Jamal Peters. He returned the interception to the Montreal 40-yard line.
With the ball in the range of Bede, the Argos started to run the clock down. A pair of Ouellette runs to set up a 38-yarder for the veteran kicker, giving Toronto the lead once again.
With their final touch of the game, Montreal was able to push into field goal range to tie the game, but Cote’s 45-yarder was blocked at the line by Dewayne Hendrix to seal the 23-20 victory.
With the win, the Argos move to 11-1 on the season while also wrapping up the top spot in the East Division. The Double Blue will return home on Sept 23 where they will take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the fourth and final regular-season matchup between the two Ontario rivals.