TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts’ offense fired at full throttle as they won the East Final.
The Boatmen scored early and often on Sunday and with a 34-27 victory over the Montreal Alouettes, Toronto will play the 109th Gray Cup in Regina.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns in the game as he helped lead Toronto to its first Gray Cup appearance since 2017.
“McLeod had his best game in the biggest game,” head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said in a postgame interview.
The Argonauts offense clicked in all phases of the game in Sunday’s Eastern Final. As a unit, the Boatmen’s offense regrouped for 446 total rushing yards, attacking the Alouettes from multiple angles and managing to score four touchdowns in the game.
“There’s no doubt about it, I think it’s our best offensive performance in the last two seasons,” Dinwiddie said. “I thought (Bethel-Thompson) had a hell of a game, our offensive line played really well. In fact, everyone in attack played very well.
Andre Harris returned to the Argonauts roster after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in Week 10 of the regular season. Upon his return, Harris led the team with nine carries for 42 yards and a touchdown, while counterpart AJ Ouellette recorded 91 total yards and a receiving touchdown.
“Andre Harris is a warrior,” Bethel-Thompson said of his teammate. “What he’s done this year is a medical miracle, and we’re so lucky to have him on this team.”
Asked about the luxury of having the two-headed monster of Harris and Ouellette in the backfield, Dinwiddie praised the way both backs attack a defense.
“I think it’s pretty neat,” Dinwiddie said. “We wanted to have it all year, unfortunately we couldn’t do it from the start.
“I think it keeps these guys fresh. It doesn’t have to be such a clean block for these two, they’ll find a way to get you six.
Gittens struck late in the third quarter to give Toronto a 10-point lead, while Daniels found the end zone on a second round that saw Chad Kelly shoot a pass for a score of 46 yards. Dinwiddie admitted he felt he saw something against Montreal that would have allowed him to call the player up in the regular season, but opted to save it.
“We’ve had this for about four weeks,” he explained. “We felt like we played them last time because we wanted to win the East. It was one of our big games and we saved it.
The call helped Toronto take a 21-3 lead early in the game’s second quarter of action.
Toronto’s aggressive defensive unit also played an important role in their win over the Alouettes. The Double Blue defense had three sacks in the game and recovered a fumble, while holding William Stanback and the Montreal offense under 100 rushing yards.
Speaking to the media after the game, veteran linebacker Enoc Muamba says he’s proud of the way his unit has played, but knows he still has one game to go to achieve his goal.
“We talked about getting to where we are right now,” Muamaba said. “It’s a good thing to be here, but it’s not the price.”
Bethel-Thompson, who was part of the Argonauts team that won the Gray Cup in 2017, reflected on the championship chase and what it will take to win a Gray Cup.
“My first year here in 2017, I saw how the team worked,” Bethel-Thompson said. “The brotherhood that was built and what it took to get there. It took five long years to come back.
“If we go there and we don’t play, it will be for nothing. We are therefore delighted and grateful for this opportunity.