The Toronto Argonauts battled back late, thanks to big plays from their defense, to top the Saskatchewan Roughriders 30-24, and win the 2022 version of Touchdown Atlantic.
The East-leading 2-2 Toronto Argonauts fell behind to the now 4-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders 24-21 late, but a Wynton McManis interception for a touchdown put the Boatmen ahead. And in a form of poetic justice, Shaq Richardson would seal the game with an acrobatic play to give the Argos their first ever Touchdown Atlantic victory.
The story of the game, besides the beautiful setting in Nova Scotia, was the ugliness that occurred before the contest and throughout between Saskatchewan’s Duke Williams and Toronto’s Shaq Richardson. The antics between the two almost marred what was a wonderful and exciting game.
The league will need to review everything that took place. The Riders and Argos will meet again a week from now at Mosaic Stadium. The league can’t afford a repeat of what happened on Saturday afternoon.
CFL Touchdown Atlantic 2022 Game Recap
There was some unfortunate theatrics involved before the game started when Saskatchewan Roughriders WR Duke Williams and Toronto Argonauts DB Shaq Richardson got into a war of words. The entire incident wasn’t caught on video. But the video captured Williams swinging his helmet at Shaq Richardson. Fortunately, Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie and others were on hand to break the two players up before things escalated any further. Unfortunately, the hysterics wouldn’t end after the pre game dustup.
The emotions in the pre-game spilled over to the start of the game as the Riders chose to receive the football first. The Argos defense committed two penalties, one by Shaq Richardson on a misconduct foul. The penalties helped aid Saskatchewan into scoring territory. However, thanks to a Shawn Oakman sack, Toronto’s defense stiffened and held the Riders to a field goal attempt. But Brett Lauther missed the 42-yard attempt. The misfire would net Saskatchewan a single to take the early lead.
The Riders would keep the score at 1-0 by smothering Toronto’s offense on their first two possessions. A 27-yard punt return by Mario Alford would lead to another Saskatchewan field goal attempt. This time, the Nova Scotia native Brett Lauther would connect from 36 yards to give his team a 4-0 advantage.
As the game neared the second quarter, Toronto would finally get things going on their third offensive series. Thanks to two big pass completions and a 15-yard run by McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Saskatchewan penalties would also help aid the drive. With Toronto at the seven-yard line, Bethel-Thompson would connect with DaVaris Daniels for the game’s first touchdown in the Atlantic. The pretty score would give the Argos a 7-4 lead.
The Riders would respond to the Argonauts’ score by driving quickly into Toronto territory. A 51-yard run by Jamal Morrow brought Saskatchewan deep into the red zone. Shawn Oakman’s second sack of the game stopped Saskatchewan’s drive. The play could’ve proved disastrous for Cody Fajardo, who had his leg twisted as Oakman tried to hold onto him in the pocket. Fajardo was limping after the play but returned to the lineup. Dave Dickenson would unsuccessfully challenge the play for roughing. The Riders’ drive would stall, and they would settle for another Brett Lauther field goal to even the score at 7.
Toronto’s offense would fail to respond on their next drive. A Phillip Blake roughness penalty would lead to a second and 25. McLeod Bethel-Thompson would be intercepted down the field by Blace Brown on a throw into double coverage that acted as a punt.
No harm, no foul, as the Argos defense would force a quick two and out and get the ball back to their offense after the turnover. But after, Toronto’s offense converted a first down pass to Cam Phillips to get near midfield. A bad snap from center would cut the drive short.
With the Riders deep in their own end, after a John Hagerty punt inside the 10. Cody Fajardo would pull an MBT by throwing up his own punt-like interception on second and long to Royce Metchie.
A 13-yard hookup between McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Cam Phillips would bring the Boatmen into Riders’ territory. Three plays later, McLeod would take two consecutive shots deep down the field. The first, Brandon Banks was unable to hang onto as Jayden Dalke broke up the pass near the goal posts. However, on the next play, McLeod would find a wide-open Cam Phillips on a busted coverage for a 40-yard major. The score would give Toronto a 14-7 lead.
The Riders would respond quickly to Toronto’s score, thanks to an illegal kickoff by Boris Bede that would give them excellent field position at the 50. Five plays later, Cody Fajardo would scramble and find a leaping Jamal Morrow in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Morrow would be rocked on the play by Jamal Peters in the end zone but would hold on to help his team tie the game at 14.
With just over a minute remaining. A red-hot McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who accumulated over 180 yards in the first half, would help lead the Argos deep down the field in rapid fashion. The Argos would get all the way down to Saskatchewan’s 5-yard line after four first-down completions by MBT. But with only 8 seconds left, Toronto would fail to get in the end zone, and they would settle for a 12-yard field goal to take a 17-14 advantage into the second half.
The Argonauts’ would get the ball to start the second half. Toronto would stay hot on offense driving swiftly into Saskatchewan territory. But as they neared the green zone, a second bad snap by Justin Lawrence that sailed over the head of Bethel-Thompson would lead to Toronto settling for a 41-yard field goal by Boris Bede to extend their lead to 20-14.
Toronto’s defense would force a quick two and out on Saskatchewan’s first offensive series of the second half. But the Riders’ defensive unit would return the favor, preventing the Argos from scoring on their fourth consecutive offensive possession.
Facing a second and 17 on their second offensive series of the half, Cody Fajardo would be flagged for throwing the football after crossing the line of scrimmage. But a late hit by Shane Ray and an assortment of misconduct penalties would give the Riders a first down at midfield.
However, a deep shot by Fajardo to Kian Schaffer-Baker into the end zone would prove unsuccessful and lead to another Riders punt.
On the next Argos offensive series, Andrew Harris would surpass Milt Stegall for fourth all-time on yards from scrimmage on a pretty 18-yard catch and run. However, the Riders would force the Boatmen to punt the ball back as the third quarter ended.
The Argos defense would force a two and out to start the fourth quarter. Thanks to a JaGared Davs sack.
Despite promising field position to start their next drive. On second down, The Argos would misfire on a possible pass completion down the field. However, a John Haggerty punt into the end zone would net the Boatmen a single and extend their lead to 21-14.
Down 7, Saskatchewan would get cooking with two first-down completions netting 28 yards by Cody Fajardo. One play later, the Riders would hit pay dirt and tie the game at 21 when Fajardo would connect with Duke Williams on a shallow post route for a 32-yard score.
The Argonauts would fail to answer the tying score on their next possession when McLeod Bethel Thompson missed a wide-open Markeith Ambles for a potential first down.
With momentum back on their side, Cody Fajardo would stay hot, connecting on a deep ball to Kian Schaffer-Baker for a 44-yard gain. Toronto’s defense would hold Saskatchewan to a field goal attempt. But the antics between Shaq Richardson and Duke Williams would continue with both players nearly coming to blows.
Meanwhile, Brett Lauther would convert his 32-yard try to put the Roughriders back in the lead at 24-21 with less than five minutes left.
The ice-cold Argos offense would make a big play in their responding series when McLeod Bethel-Thompson found DaVaris Daniels for a 34-yard pickup to SSK’s 36-yard line.
But the drive would stall when a deep shot to Brandon Banks into the end zone would fall incomplete. Ryan Dinwiddie would unsuccessfully challenge for pass interference. Boris Bede would come out for a 42-yard field goal to tie the game. But he would miss the kick wide left, netting the Boatmen a rouge.
With the Riders up 24-22 with 3:49 left in the game. Saskatchewan would look to ice the game. But one of the league’s hottest defensive players, Wynton McManis, would intercept an underneath pass by Fajardo and return it 49 yards for the go-ahead score. Toronto would opt for two, and MBT would find Brandon Banks in the end zone to extend their lead to 30-24.
The Riders’ offense would have one last opportunity to win the game in the closing seconds. But an errant pass by Cody Fajardo at midfield would be intercepted by Shaq Richardson. The frustrated Richardson would have the last laugh when he picked the football off in between his legs and helped seal the victory for Toronto.
CFL Touchdown Atlantic 2022 Box Score
FG MISSED RETURNS
|GITTENS JR., Kurleigh||4||7||39||5||9.8||15||0|
|GITTENS JR., Kurleigh||1||5||5.0||5||0|
FG MISSED RETURNS
|GITTENS JR., Kurleigh||1||0||0||0||0||0|
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July 17, 2022 at 2:34 pm
Fajardo blew an opportunity and his knee doesn’t look good. He should rest it. The trouble is that the Roughriders don’t have an experienced backup QB. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie should reinstate Johnny Manziel and the Roughriders should make a pitch for him to be their backup quarterback.
July 21, 2022 at 9:11 am
johnny manziel is a waist of time! And yes the CFL badly needs QB’s! the quality of players will deminish with the XFL starting up in febuary of 2023. it will be interesting to see what the cfl looks like in 2023?
July 21, 2022 at 12:53 pm
If Manziel is a waste of time then may I suggest Cam Newton? Manziel still passed for 1290 yards in the CFL and that amounts to more experience then a lot of QBs the CFL is trying to put in there.