Argos win on opening night when Als miss easy field goal

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There will be better days for the Argos.

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Fortunately, Thursday night’s opponents were the hard-luck Als, who should have won when all they had to do was kick a routine field goal late in the evening.

They missed and the Argos escaped their season opener with a 20-19 win, which was eerily similar to many of last season’s close calls when opponents failed to execute on special teams.

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Andrew Harris was as good as advertised, but he couldn’t finish the game, leaving with an apparent left leg injury in the fourth quarter.

He rushed 18 times for 87 yards and caught three passes for 23 yards.

Lack of finish would plague the Argos all night. The Als would use all three of their quarterbacks and made a change at the position in the opening half.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson started and finished, had moments, but he must be better and he must be more secure with the football and more decisive in his decision making and ability to read the field.

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For all intents and purposes, the Argos should have taken care of business and should have and could have done themselves a favour by being on point offensively.

Defensively, the Argos were good, but at the end they allowed the Als to move the chains on third down and then gave up plays down the field. A win is a win, and the Argos got lucky.

Post-game, head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said Harris aggravated a hamstring he first suffered in camp, which is why the veteran did not play in any of Toronto’s two pre-season games.

“He did some good things,’’ said Dinwiddie. “He played well.”

Dinwiddie is hopeful Harris will be available next week when the Argos travel to Vancouver, but he’s not sure.

“Next man up,’’ said the head coach if Harris can’t play.

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SWEET 16
Brandon Banks was on the receiving end of his first touchdown as an Argo on Toronto’s opening drive to begin the second half.

The third quarter began with the Als kicking off to the Argos, who ran well and got Markeith Ambles involved in the passing game.

With the Argos scrimmaging from Montreal’s 15-yard line, Banks caught a simple pass on an in-route that should have resulted in a minimal gain.

Instead, he eluded two tackles and easily scored the game’s first touchdown.

During his days in Hamilton, Banks was known for his playmaking skills and his No. 16 jersey, the same number he wears as an Argo.

FOUR THE RECORD
Harris was the featured weapon on four successive possessions on Toronto’s opening series to begin the game after its defence forced a quick two and out.

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Along the ground and through the air, Harris displayed his versatility.

More than anything, he showed his ability to run downhill, one of the reasons why the Argos coveted the veteran in free agency.

The Argos were quite impressive on their first series by driving the ball to Montreal’s 10-yard line, but then strangely abandoned the run game.

Montreal brought pressure off the edge to force two incompletions, including one in the end zone that was initially ruled an interception by Mike Jones on a pass intended for Cam Phillips.

It was overturned by video review, leading to a 17-yard field goal and a 3-0 Argos lead.
Toronto’s Achilles’ heel on offence last season was its inability to finish off drives, which ultimately came back to haunt the Argos in their loss to Hamilton in the East final when they couldn’t produce a single touchdown.

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Quarterback play was questionable and no question the opening half Thursday night was poor in terms of QB play.

Harris was stripped of the ball on a run play late in the third quarter, but the Argos recovered and managed to produce a single on a rare missed field goal by Boris Bede from 26 yards.

He missed his second in a row, this one from 45 yards in the fourth quarter that led to a single.

RAY LEADS THE WAY

It was obvious the potential and presence Shane Ray will have this season.

He was hurt last year, Ray’s first in the CFL.

In fact, he injured his hand in Toronto’s season-opening win against the host Calgary Stampeders.

Quicker and very locked in, Ray was a menace at rush end coming off the left edge.

When Ja’Gared Davis took a breather, the Argos moved Ray to the right side of the line of scrimmage.

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Ray recorded a sack and was credited for two tackles in the first half.

Toronto’s defence held the Als to 115 yards of offence in the opening 30 minutes.

EXTRA POINTS

Argos starting right tackle Dejon Allen and Als starting middle linebacker Tre Watson were both ejected with 12:04 left in the opening half when they became entangled on Toronto’s side of midfield. Shane Richards, one of two backup Canadian O-linemen dressed for the Argos, filled in for Allen … Montreal made a QB change with 9:50 left in the half when head coach Khari Jones went with Trevor Harris. Jones went with starter Vernon Adams Jr. for the entire game last week in Calgary. Harris did hook up with Eugene Lewis on a 42-yard play, but would later throw an interception to Tarvarus McFadden, who would run out of bounds with one second left in the half. McFadden was playing in his first CFL game. His pick led to a field goal as the Argos took an 11-6 lead into halftime…An injury to starting DB Robertson Daniel allowed Caleb Holden to get extended playing time in the secondary. Holden was making his CFL debut…In his return to the CFL following a stint in the NFL, LB Wynton McManis sacked Harris deep in Toronto territory that forced the Als to kick a field goal. It was the fifth-career sack for McManis and first in an Argos jersey…When Harris left the game, rookie Ben Adeboboye, who attended Northern Secondary School, converted on third down by diving over the line just before the three-minute warning.

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