Argos close out Week 1 with back-and-forth win over Lions

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TORONTO — A late-game touchdown by Toronto Argonauts starting quarterback Cameron Dukes closed out an explosive back-and-forth 35-27 win against the BC Lions on Sunday night.

Dukes completed 21 of 27 passes for passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the winning effort for the Argonauts. The Week 1 tilt also marked running back Ka’Deem Carey’s debut with the Double Blue, who finished with 105 yards from scrimmage and a major.

Veteran receiver Dejon Brissett led the Argos with three catches for 52 yards and a major while off-season addition Rasheed Bailey caught five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. completed 25 of 33 passes for 363 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, including a second quarter offensive frenzy heading into halftime. Receiver Justin McInnis totalled seven catches for 103 yards and a major and Travis Fulgham caught his first CFL major in the second quarter.

The second half saw the offence struggle against a dominant Argonauts front though, with the Boatmen finishing with six total sacks. Defensive lineman Jared Brinkman led the way with two takedowns and newcomer Jake Ceresna added a sack of his own. Toronto’s defence also kept running back William Stanback in check in his first game for BC to the tune of 11 carries for 35 yards.

The Lions’ defence added a score of their own with Tibo Debaillie on fumble return, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the team from starting the season with a 0-1 record.

The Double Blue have not lost a home game since 2022 nor allowed a Lions win at BMO Field since 2019.

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The Argos opened the scoring midway through the first quarter in what would become a game of momentum swings.

Dukes led the 10-play, 85-yard scoring drive ending in an eight-yard pass to Carey for Toronto’s first touchdown of the 2024 campaign. 

The Lions came roaring back with an explosive second quarter. Trailing 6-0, the Orange and Black scored three straight touchdowns – two on offence before the defence added another – to go up 20-6. 

Adams Jr. first connected with McInnis on a 29-yard touchdown pass before following up on the next drive with a 50-yard completion to Fulgham for his first CFL major.

On the Argos next offensive drive, Lions defensive lineman Joshua Archibald sacked Dukes to force a fumble recovered by Debaillie for a 20-yard touchdown return.

Dukes and the Double Blue then responded with the team’s second major before halftime. Bailey caught the 21-yard touchdown pass in the end zone in his debut with the Argos. Bailey spent his four seasons in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. 

Toronto’s starting kicker Lirim Hajrullahu added a field goal on the final play of the first half to narrow the deficit 20-16.

The Boatmen retook the lead on their first drive of the third quarter with a short pass from Dukes to Brissett for a 26-yard touchdown.

Lions kicker Sean Whyte added a field goal to tie the game 23-23 just over midway through the third, before Hajrullahu made good on a field goal for a three-point lead. 

BC would add a single off a 42-yard punt by Stefan Flintoft to close the gap 26-24 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Leos retook the lead early in the fourth with a 51-yard field goal from Whyte, only to have the Argos respond with a 38-yard field goal to retake the lead 29-27. Toronto’s defence stood tall later in the fourth with two sacks on Adams Jr. for a total of six on the night. A turnover on downs for the Lions put the Boatmen deep in BC territory for Dukes to rush in a one-yard touchdown and seal the win.

In Week 2, the Lions host the 1-0 Calgary Stampeders for BC’s home opener on Saturday, June 15. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET at BC Place with more than 50,000 tickets already sold. 

Meanwhile, the Argos have a bye and will resume action in Week 3 hosting the Edmonton Elks on Saturday, June 22. 

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